New versus Old Media

By Erik Arvidson

Are bloggers wired differently than traditional journalists?

This week I came across new research by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism that uses hard data to quantify the differences between the news agenda of new and old media.

The Pew Research Center’s study, titled “New Media, Old Media,” collected a year’s worth of data on the top news stories linked to on blogs, discussed on Twitter, and shared on Youtube. The major finding was that each social media platform “seems to have its own personality and function.”

Among the other key findings:

·         Bloggers tended to focus more on stories that “elicited emotion, concerned individual or group rights or triggered ideological passion.” Often these were stories that people could easily share on social networks with their own personal thoughts;

·         Social media tends to focus on stories that don’t get a lot of traction in the mainstream press. Rarely does a story get picked up in social media first, then by traditional media outlets;

·         Technology is a big topic of discussion on Twitter, while politics is less so. Blogs tended to focus more on politics and foreign events, less on technology;

·         All three social media platforms (blogs, Twitter, Youtube) shared the common characteristic of not staying on one story very long.  On blogs, 53 percent of top stories remain on the list of the most discussed stories for no more than three days, while on Twitter, the same is true for 72 percent of lead stories.

What does this all mean for PR professionals? Keeping in mind the different personalities of the new and old media, and how they interrelate, is key. There is a huge disparity between what the mainstream media considers to be the most important news and what each social media platform is most interested in discussing. It bears close watching as to whether traditional media outlets will continue to adjust their news coverage to better align with the interests of each social platform.