Those rooting for the demise of traditional media will take pause from this story. A new study shows that 99% of the stories that blogs link to come from the hated MSM.
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism analyzed millions of blogs and social media pages and found that the blogosphere relies on traditional media for content. Some interesting findings:
- Newspapers and broadcast networks generated more than 99% of the stories linked to by bloggers, and 87% of those stories were news reports rather than Op/Ed pieces.
- But there were only 13 times when blogs and the mainstream press had the same top story, the most-overlapping of which was "the U.S. economic crisis (five weeks in all)." Others were H1N1, the protests in Iran last June and Sen. Edward Kennedy's death.
- Technology stories dominated on Twitter, comprising 43% of the top-five list any given week. "Foreign Events" stories came in second at 13%. And Twitter and the mainstream press were even less likely to share the same top story.
- Unlike blogs, 39% of the most linked-to stories on Twitter came from online only sources, versus 30% that came from newspapers/magazines and broadcast networks.
- Meanwhile, the "Foreign Events" category topped the most-viewed news videos on YouTube at 26%, whose top news agenda also mostly differed from the mainstream press. Also! CNN's bizarro "balloon boy" interview got more than 2.5 million hits the week it aired.
Another big number? 80% of the links used by social media come from just four news outlets – BBC News, CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post. Jeff Bercovici at Daily Finance says that has big implications for the news business.
To see what effect that will have on the Times's place in the ecology of the Internet, you need only note that The Wall Street Journal, with nearly twice the print circulation of the Times, isn't on that short list of most-linked-to news outlets. That, of course, is because the Journal has dwelled for years behind a pay wall that, while highly permeable, is still an effective deterrent to bloggers, who don't want to direct their readers to dead ends. The same goes for the Financial Times, which employs a metered model similar to the one the Times is believed to favor.
In fact, PEJ's study suggests that the links that would have gone to WSJ and FT in the absence of pay walls have been going to the Times instead. The content on nytimes.com most often linked to by bloggers is business and economic news, which accounts for 29% of linked stories -- as much as the next two areas (politics/national news and technology) combined. Surely in an all-free online universe, many if not most of those links would go to financial publications instead of to a general-interest.
Blogs also cater to the short attention span of today’s media consumer. 53% of top stories on blogs lasted three days or less. That number is 72% on Twitter. More than half of stories stay on the list for just 24 hours.