How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate To Traditional, Oh To Hell With It

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released another of their comprehensive and fascinating research reports on our ever-changing media diets - this one about the intersection between social media (blogs, Twitter, YouTube) and the traditional press, as studied over the course of a year.

Among the many fascinating tidbits sprinkled through the report shines this one grand truth: That social media and traditional media don’t really intersect that much at all, unless it’s when blogs link to original reporting done by legacy outlets.

According to Pew:

-“Blogs still heavily rely on the traditional press - and primarily just a few outlets within that - for their information. More than 99% of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four - the BBC, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post accounted for fully 80% of the links.”
- Topics on blogs, Twitter and YouTube vary greatly from topics covered in the traditional press. Blogs shared the same lead story with traditional media in just 13 of 49 weeks studied, YouTube’s top stories matched traditional media’s eight times and Twitter matched four times.
- They also vary greatly amongst themselves: The single time news judgment on blogs, Twitter and YouTube was in sync over the entire year was the week of June 15-19 when the protests following Iranian elections led on all three.
- In general, technology stories dominate on Twitter, political stories that lend themselves to personalization and partisan language dominate in blogs, and most watched videos on YouTube have a viral “Hey, you’ve got to see this” mentality, with a broad international mix.
- Meanwhile, social media “tend to hone in on stories that get much less attention in the mainstream press” and “there is little evidence, at least at this point, of the traditional press picking up these stories in response.”

All of which can be exemplified by this Onion article making fun of the sort of breathless navel-gazing coverage of tech and social media start ups that is so rampant on Twitter, the equal but opposite force of legacy media’s condescending reluctance to cover each and every new social media player on the scene and its tendency to turn it into an over-hyped Trend Story when they do. The Onion study article is headlined: “New Social Networking Site Changing The Way Oh, Christ, Forget It.”

While millions of young, tech-savvy professionals already use services like Facebook and Twitter to keep in constant touch with friends, a new social networking platform called Foursquare has recently taken the oh, fucking hell, can’t some other desperate news outlet cover this crap instead? …

By “checking in,” users can earn tangible, real-world rewards. For instance, the Foursquare user with the most points at any given venue earns the designation of “mayor” and can receive discounts, free food, or other prizes that, quite honestly, we’re thoroughly disgusted with ourselves for having actually researched.

In addition, please, kill us already.

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Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.