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Traditional News Media Lead Blogs By 2.5 Hours 186

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-letters-to-the-editor-are-much-quicker dept.
Peace Corps Online writes "The NY Times reports that researchers at Cornell studying the news cycle by looking for repeated phrases and tracking some 90 million articles and blog posts which appeared from August through October 2008 on 1.6 million mainstream media sites and blogs, have discovered that for the most part, traditional news outlets lead and the blogs follow, typically by 2.5 hours. The researchers studied frequently repeated short phrases, the equivalent of 'genetic signatures' for ideas. The biggest text-snippet surge found in the study — 'lipstick on a pig' originated in Barack Obama's colorful put-down of the claim by Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin that they were the genuine voices for change in the campaign. The researchers' paper, 'Meme-tracking and the Dynamics of the News Cycle,' (PDF) shows that although most news flowed from the traditional media to the blogs, 3.5 percent of story lines originated in the blogs and later made their way to traditional media."
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Traditional News Media Lead Blogs By 2.5 Hours

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  • Nobody Cares (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    /. puts the best bits all in one neat package regardless where its from.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2009 @01:53AM (#28672937)
      Repeatedly!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hope Thelps (322083)

      /. puts the best bits all in one neat package regardless where its from.

      Plus, I'd just feel stupid buying a newspaper in order to NOT read any of the articles and just get on with discussing them anyway - what a waste of money. Slashdot makes it feel natural.

      • Re:Nobody Cares (Score:4, Interesting)

        by fractoid (1076465) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:58AM (#28673195) Homepage
        Contrariwise, traditional 'read-only' media is increasingly annoying to me. I'll hear some news snippet on the radio and want to post a comment.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by nutshell42 (557890)
          Just put a notebook next to the radio and "post" it there for all the impact comments have on most online news sites.

          For the ultimate online discussion experience you can then ring up your wife and tell her that she's fat.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MindKata (957167)
          "hear some news snippet on the radio and want to post a comment"

          Also this research wouldn't be able to detect if any news breaks first as a blog and then gets picked up by news organizations. The news organizations can spread the news wide as they have many readers, but the initial seed of news can still come from Blogs.

          For example, I was watching in real time the night news broke of Michael Jackson had died. It was very evident the TV people were using the Internet news as their main source of initial
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by m.ducharme (1082683)

            Maybe you missed the part in the summary where they indicate that 3.5% of news stories originated at blogs, and then were picked up by the traditional media. Apparently their testing methodology can indeed detect stories that originate on blogs.

            • I didn't miss the 3.5% comment. That doesn't change the fact news organizations are big and so bias perceptions of what is seen as big news events. Its a fact news organizations can spread the news wide as they have many readers so each bit of news they release gets to become high profile news far more often and so is seen as a "news event". When blogs release news, most of that they say is simply drowned out and ignored as its readership is so much smaller than global media organizations.

              If you still don
      • Re:Nobody Cares (Score:5, Interesting)

        by operator_error (1363139) on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:59AM (#28673449)

        But who on /. bothers to RTFA anyway?

        And is this a higher percentage than Digg's article/quality-comment ratio? Mind you, the comments on digg are often so inane, if it wasn't for the articles, what's the point? In fact let me continue. It seems the comments by John & Jane Q. Public left on various 'news' articles are often rather mindless, semi-anonymous comments mostly of shock value. Who bothers reading those? What does one hope to gain.

        At least on /. I can learn to hack cheap routers from the comments left by readers.

  • by Lorens (597774) on Monday July 13, 2009 @01:52AM (#28672931) Journal

    did it appear on the NYT site 2.5 hours after the paper came out?

  • So what's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Monday July 13, 2009 @01:54AM (#28672943)

    Which brings up the point again...traditional media outlets will need to figure out how to monetize and stay in business, or all those blogs will no longer have a source for their stories. Then we'll have nothing left but crowdsourced news. Which is OK in a riot or a protest, but otherwise does not come with the depth of research from a good, non-lazy journalist that does his or her homework, uses multiple sources to back up facts, etc. etc.

    So what's the future look like? A merging of the blogosphere and traditional media to something new?

    • Re:So what's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by davmoo (63521) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:05AM (#28672979)

      The problem is most traditional media outlets aren't doing that style of journalism any more. They fire as many of their local people as they can, and rely even more on AP and the intarwebs. Instead of bringing me in-depth local news that I can't get anywhere else and would be willing to pay for, they bring me news that I can find in 470 other locations for free.

      • Re:So what's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DavidD_CA (750156) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:46AM (#28673159) Homepage

        And then they wonder why no one wants to pay them $20/mo for a subscription.

        You've hit the nail on the head. And this is why I think there will always be a place, albiet much smaller, for traditional reporters.

        And that place won't be on dead trees. After all, reporting has nothing to do with the medium it's presented in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Killer Orca (1373645)
        Well you might want local news, but some people want world and national news. I hate it when the local news airs here, for the most part I could care less, I can't imagine going out of my way to read about mundane events in my city, "City losing money", "Local man killed" "Pet adoption on the rise" blah, blah, blah.
        • Re:So what's next? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by JPortal (857107) <joshua...gross@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:31AM (#28673315) Homepage

          What concerns me is that if citizens aren't active in the local government, it'll quickly fall apart and the national government won't even matter. It's important because citizens *can* have a profound impact on their local government, but fewer will do so if there isn't good information out there.

        • Re:So what's next? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by oGMo (379) on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:37AM (#28673339)
          This is because you're not thinking big enough. Local news is world news: something always happens somewhere. It's a matter of which people care about it. Traditional media has capitalized on high-profile stories that will draw lots of attention ("low-hanging fruit," to use the annoying buzzphrase).

          However, this means we're missing a huge chunk of actual world news. While we know of a few major items, we don't know about the aggregate of everything else. How many people died today? Glancing at Google News, you might note that maybe some people died from bombings, and a few others in battle, and maybe a few to flu. But that's a very tiny selection. High profile cases. How many people died in traffic accidents? Or from other disease or poor health? Old age? What regions? What were the numbers?

          This is actual interesting information which would probably change our perspective drastically on a lot of issues. Unfortunately it takes a good bit of work to put it together, and it doesn't quite get you glamorous headlines. But it's world news, and the sort of thing that would be worth paying for.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            This is quite an interesting point you make. You're putting forward a distinction between two different types of world news.

            A) A single event that affects the entire world (ex: the nasdaq loses 5%)

            B) The same local scale event that occurs everywhere in a span of time (ex: 2300 different small armed conflicts killed 3000 people around the world today)

            A-type events are covered by traditional media and from a local perspective by bloggers on location

            B-type events aren't reported by anyone and are probably inac

        • Re:So what's next? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by davmoo (63521) on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:42AM (#28673359)

          Next time your local government does something that adversely affects you and you feel it totally sucks, think about how that lack of interest among you and the community contributes to that. I'm not saying its all your fault or anything like that. But people who don't take an interest in the goings-on in their community usually end up living in a horrid city with the kind of government they deserve.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by bertoelcon (1557907)

            Next time your local government does something that adversely affects you and you feel it totally sucks, think about how that lack of interest among you and the community contributes to that. I'm not saying its all your fault or anything like that. But people who don't take an interest in the goings-on in their community usually end up living in a horrid city with the kind of government they deserve.

            That scales for any size of community. From local city level to international level it is what you do with it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ToasterMonkey (467067)

        The problem is most traditional media outlets aren't doing that style of journalism any more. They fire as many of their local people as they can, and rely even more on AP and the intarwebs. Instead of bringing me in-depth local news that I can't get anywhere else and would be willing to pay for, they bring me news that I can find in 470 other locations for free.

        For those of you lucky enough to have both the Internet AND a TV, in the US, over the air stations are required to air so many hours of local news each day.

        What backwoods little town do you come from where you think you're being shorted in-depth local news? You want to find your local news, go kick a state trooper in the nuts. I'd feel bad for him, but you'd find your local media. How in depth do you want it anyway? Maybe nobody gives a damn about some old house that burned down, or the availability of

        • Re:So what's next? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:08PM (#28680873) Journal

          You're saying you'd pay for in-depth local news where you currently have none, and I'm calling you a liar.

          Before you call him a liar... you might want to check out the facts.

          Local papers are closing their doors all the time. Local reporters are being laid off constantly. Circulation of local papers is in freefall.

          Larger, regional papers are cutting their local reporting staff.

          Just because you don't want it to be true doesn't mean that it isn't true.

          Go ahead, look at your regional paper. How many stories are credited to the AP? How does this compare to three years ago?

          Go ahead, call you local paper. Ask how many reporters they have on staff. Ask how many stringers they use. Compare this to three years ago.

          The FACT is that local reporting is disappearing. Hell, even major state papers are reducing local coverage. The Star-Ledger in NJ used to have three full-time reporters in Trenton, which meant we'd get a decent amount of in-depth, researched, coverage into state politics. Now, they have one part-time reporter... the rest of the Trenton stories come through the AP. The quality is a tenth what it used to be. And that's for the state capital! Local news is even worse.

          My local paper used to employ 11 people at the local office, and retain the services of about 10 or 15 stringers. Now they have 4 employees at the local office, and 8 stringers (plus a couple more during HS football season). Both the quantity and quality of local news has dropped enormously.

          This is not a local trend. This is a national trend. The ASNE (American Society of Newspaper Editors) can barely talk about anything else -- they are fighting for survival. The ASME (Amer. Soc. of Magazine Editors) recognizes the problem for regional and local magazines as well.

          But go ahead, lambast someone for lying when you yourself don't know the state of affairs. I suggest you read up on it a bit, you might be surprised how quickly local news is dying. Do you even read your local paper? Have you noticed how it has changed over the past few years? You might be lucky to have a local paper that bucks the trend... but it's only a matter of time before your paper suffers the same fate.

          Personally, I think we need to figure out a way local news can be monetized on the web, because I see a value in professional local news -- and print media is going buh-bye in the long run. But I'm not sure it can be done without a huge (and largely unwelcome) change in how we feel about web content. Most people feel it should be free, and they are used to it being free. But that doesn't jibe with the fact that it costs money to produce quality reporting... so we have some painful adjustments (either no good local reporting, or having to pay for online content).

      • How 'bout this: We have "traditional" journalists produce stories, doing their in-depth investigatory thing, but then we deliver those stories on the web, cutting out the whole "paper, trucks, printing" thing that costs money.

        Just because something is delivered on the internet doesn't mean it cannot contain a high degree of professional journalism.

        What does have to change, though, is people's willingness to pony up a few cents to read this professional work. Either that, or a willingness to turn off AdBlo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by infalliable (1239578)

        I'd agree that is a large portion of the decline in traditional news outlets/papers. Too many shallow stories without deep investigative work. Take political stories for example, you almost always see the news outlets repeat the "company" lines without any analysis as to whether they're right or not. On some things, there is no "right" answer, but for many things there is a position that is much more tenable, is not framed to be misleading, etc. News outlets need to hit on these things.
        .
        Their other issu

    • Re:So what's next? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:45AM (#28673377)
      There is no way of monetising that will keep geeks happy. It's a myth peddled by people who want to justify the morality of blocking every ad, no matter how unintrusive.

      The ways of making money:

      Subscription - few people are willing to subscribe to a single site.

      advertising - adblock. Only cast iron method of getting around it is by putting ads before videos and not displaying any videos until the ad has played through. But not every news site does videos.

      Merchandise - CNN don't sell many DVDs and CNN branded T-shirts are hardly going to fly off the shelves.

      Donations - People point to Wiki as an example of this being successful but it simply isn't viable for 99% of sites. If people donate at all they donate once and that's it. Wiki survives because of hard campaining for donations and because it looks good for companies to donate to.

      Licencing content - when blogs can rip out all the juicy info from an article and just link to the source at the bottom, this simply isn't viable (that and you're moving the revenue problem downstream)

      Only possible solution I could see is a subcription service that covers hundreds of sites. You pay $4.99 a month and the money gets divided up between sites based on page views. However this is a nightmare to set up and get people on board and you may find it's about as successful as regular subscriptions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EdIII (1114411) *

        It's a myth peddled by people who want to justify the morality of blocking every ad, no matter how unintrusive.

        Forgive me, but that sounds like you *may* be saying that adblocking is immoral? You aren't saying that are you?

        I sure hope not, because implied social contracts in which I am obligated to view advertisements are also a myth.

        • Re:So what's next? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:57AM (#28673647)
          Yes I am saying it's immoral. It's well known lots of these websites get their revenue from advertising. If the adverts are unintrusive there's little justification for blocking them.

          It may not be illegal but that doesn't mean it's moral. You know it's cost them to write and host the material, you know they need advertising revenue to pay for this. Talking about "implied social contracts" doesn't change the fact you are making a moral choice to get the sweat off of someone else's brow without giving them anything in return.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Linker3000 (626634)

            This is always going to be a hotly-debated topic.

            Newspapers generate revenue to help fund their business by having ads on their page, yet if I flip past the full-page, right-facing ad for 'Product X', no one's going to cry 'foul' and insist I turn back and read the ad in full.

            I have freedom of choice to read, or not read, ads in print - and I take steps to exercise that freedom online too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nyctopterus (717502)

          It is not a damn myth, it is a moral position. Some people may think it is an obligation, others think it is not.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by abigsmurf (919188)
            The myth refers to the idea that sites can still make money to cover wages and costs if their ads are blocked. The idea that it's the news site's own fault for using 'outdated' practices and not ones that could make them money.

            I thought that was kind of inferred by the way I then proceeded to explain why pretty much every other way of generating revenue isn't viable for most sites.
      • Re:So what's next? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by superwiz (655733) on Monday July 13, 2009 @08:38AM (#28674805) Journal
        You forgot to mention going out of business of most main-stream media (aka consolidation). So that only the intelligent news reporters and news sources would stay in business. The proliferation of MSM has reduced competitiveness of news reporting. Which has reduced quality. This is purely symbolic, but I spotted 2 typos on NYTimes front page (front page!!!) within the last year. If they are this careful with their front page, you can imagine how careful they are with they fact checking and analysis. There is simply too much job security in that business. When we moved from having 80% of people working on farms to 5% of people working on farms, which farmers do you think stayed employed? The least competent ones?
    • crowdsourced news is all that stuff being sent out from Iran, right? Where can I tune into that?

      P.S., I am a busy guy, so can I have some digestible bite-sized chunks of meat please. Not too raw, but well done please.

      Hey lookie, the NYT doesn't cost much, and I can read it while I commute home. (More people should try reading during the commute, methinks). Or podcasts like NPR offers, etc. (note, haven't tried any podcasts myself).

    • hen we'll have nothing left but crowdsourced news. Which is OK in a riot or a protest, but otherwise does not come with the depth of research from a good, non-lazy journalist that does his or her homework

      you mean repeating verbatim various corporate press releases and giving more coverage to dogmatic wackos than factual dissection?

      That's what's passing for main stream media now so far as complex issues are concerned.

    • I posted my first Meme Graph and reference here on Slashdot back in 2006.
      What comes next?
      We go from measurement to manipulation.

      http://www.realmeme.com/roller/page/realmeme?entry=meme_theory [realmeme.com]

      Diffraction is my term for measuring how well a new meme captures more bandwdith. In a Quality-Of-Service network, bandwidth always has contention and grabbing more bandwidth is difficult. If you understand how to grab bandwidth through meme patterns, you can propagate your information ahead of others.

    • There's not as much money in newspaper advertising as there used to be, and this will inevitably lead to a reduction in the amount of news being collected and the number of printed newspapers.

      In the old days, your local newspaper(s) had a monopoly or oligopoly on display and classified advertising. This gave them enough money to hire a local reporting staff, and in some cases, to set up remote bureaus. The smaller papers relied on wire services or news agencies for their national or international news, an
    • by rho (6063)

      So what's the future look like? A merging of the blogosphere and traditional media to something new?

      The "blogosphere" (God I hate that word), if it has a purpose, is to either amplify or correct what comes out of the traditional media outlets. It's a very symbiotic relationship, and probably won't work co-joined.

    • They should compete on quality. Get the users getting their news from you because you're trumping Joe Messengerbag's blog for quality of journalism, but your site must be as easily accessible as Joe Messengerbag's because convenience is a stronger motive than most people realize. If his content is crap, but easier to get to, then users will go their instead. This means no paywalls and no compulsory registration. Once you get some viewership you can worry about monetization.

      And in my experience you can o

  • Not surprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fatp (1171151)
    I don't know what's the point of this finding. Do they think 2.5 hours is too fast or too slow?

    This seems pretty fast for me. Most bloggers are not in 1st person contact of the event. It is understandable that they will not know the event before the media talks about that. They will also not immediate login their blog immediately to write their post. They can even write a post several days later!

    It would be more interesting to study the fastest of the blog posts, say 5%, and see whether they beat the media.
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:04AM (#28672975) Homepage Journal

      The point is that a lot of people are claiming the MSM is obsolete and blogs are the way of the future -- I think I've seen a good thirty /. posts to that effect in just the last month -- and this study pretty clearly shows that it isn't true.

      • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

        by superposed (308216) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:38AM (#28674105)

        The point is that a lot of people are claiming the MSM is obsolete and blogs are the way of the future ... and this study pretty clearly shows that it isn't true.

        I thought that would be the point of the story when I read it, but the story doesn't actually mention this issue at all. The researchers mostly seem to be interested in understanding how stories become popular, and the roles that blogs and traditional media play in that process.

        In the original paper [memetracker.org] (e.g., Figure 8), they report that there is a 2.5 hour lag between the peak of reporting on a story in the media in general and the peak of discussion in the blogs in general.

        They also report the typical time lag for individual news outlets or blogs (Table 1), and show that a few individual blogs (e.g., hotair.com and talkingpointsmemo.com) have tend to report stories before individual media outlets. However, even this doesn't show that news appears in blogs before it appears in the media -- some individual blogs tend to report big stories before individual news outlets, but that may be because (a) they pull stories from many news outlets, so they will inevitably have an earlier average reporting time than any individual news outlet, and (b) the early-mover blogs play a role in determining which stories become popular, even if they aren't the first to report them.

        Unfortunately, I didn't see any graph that tracked the earliest appearance of a story in any media outlet, and the earliest appearance of the same story in any blog, and compared the times of those appearances. That would be the way to really answer the question of who is reporting first. And I bet it's the media, by many hours.

        • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Informative)

          by superposed (308216) on Monday July 13, 2009 @09:33AM (#28675277)
          I just downloaded the authors' data [memetracker.org] and compared the time of the first mention of each meme in blogs versus the mainstream media. Surprisingly, the media make the first mention only 51.3% of the time. The rest of the time, the blogs had the first mention.

          The blogs were ahead by 170 hours or more 25% percent of the time, trailed by 4 minutes or less 50% of the time, and trailed by 8 hours or less 75% of the time.

          These statistics suggest that these blogs break a story before these mainstream media outlets about half the time. Sometimes the blogs are way ahead, but they are rarely far behind. The blogs have to get their news from somewhere, so it is surprising that they are ahead of (these particular) media outlets so often. Maybe they are pulling news from less-mainstream outlets (not included in this study) and building "buzz" around it, which then gets picked up by the mainstream news outlets?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        One of the reasons that the MSM is dying is because of things like the story about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She recently did an interview published in the NYT. In the interview she said that she thought the Roe vs Wade decision was partially based on limiting "populations that we don't want have too many of." None of the MSM thought that quote was worth special note, not even the NYT that published the interview. Here is the exact quote:
        "Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there wa
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

      by Asdanf (1281936) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:24AM (#28673065)

      It would be more interesting to study the fastest of the blog posts, say 5%, and see whether they beat the media.

      Fortunately, the researchers agree with you and did just that [memetracker.org]. And it turns out that some blogs do usually break stories before the MSM. I wonder why the NYTimes didn't lead with that finding...

      • And it turns out that some blogs do usually break stories before the MSM.

        Its kind of sad that almost all of those blogs which "lead the news" are political blogs with big-time political agendas rather than, say, science blogs or something that I can read without being constantly hit over the head with a half-retarded point of view.

      • by pbhj (607776)

        So basically they're saying that AP, et al., watch the top blogs (as in your link) and recycles (automatically?) their stories to the traditional newspapers. The traditional media, who as they have people working around the clock, manage to get those stories out from the wires before the predominantly unpaid bloggers get to them.

        It appears that "hot air" get over 40% of top political quotes online on average a day before the traditional media outlets?!

  • by prichardson (603676) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:05AM (#28672983) Journal

    The problem is also that they averaged in slashdot with the other blogs. Without Slashdot's "yesterday's news today" and week-old repeats I'm sure the blog average would be higher.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DMalic (1118167)
      Nice one (and frighteningly accurate). Comparing traditional media to an average of blog speed is not exceptionally useful.
  • by Maudib (223520)

    Thats it?

    I really would have hoped for better.

    • Holy shit, I can't believe that you've not been modded +5 insightful.

      Seriously, this is the most informative and non-vague piece of prose I've ever read.

      Sincerely,
      Sarcastic Cat. Meow.
  • Film at 11 (Score:3, Funny)

    by neiras (723124) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:21AM (#28673061)
    I think the blogger thought process goes something like this.

    CNN has a BREAKING NEWS headline. Quick! I'll post it on my blog and the huddled masses on the Internet will look up to me for being so much better informed than they are!"

    All they want is your respect! They want to stand out in a crowd! THEY HEARD IT FIRST! The proof is right there, in their wordpress history!

  • by Itninja (937614) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:28AM (#28673075) Homepage
    ....because newspapers can't even ink their presses in 2.5 hours. Seriously. If the President was assassinated at 1PM today, the soonest any paper could publish anything about it would be maybe 5 hours later; assuming they put out a special edition. For all other severities of news, it's usually at least 24 hours old. I am guessing this study only included TV and web sites otherwise newspapers would drastically wonk the numbers.
    • by Norsefire (1494323) * on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:45AM (#28673155) Journal
      For the newspaper, it would be the time it took for the journalists to write/gather the stories, the sub-editors to layout the page in InDesign, and most importantly for the advertising department to sell some very expensive ad space.

      On the printing side, every 2 colour pages in a Broadsheet newspaper takes 4 printing plates (Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow), 4 plates take around 5-7 minutes to produce.

      It doesn't take anywhere near 2.5 hours to ink the press, more like 10 minutes.

      You're correct that it won't be anywhere near as fast as the Internet, but for a very big event they could have a special edition out in an hour or two (depending on pages, number of copies etc.)
      • by pbhj (607776)

        [...] and most importantly for the advertising department to sell some very expensive ad space. [...]

        Don't they have standing agreements with advertisers rather like Google ads, where they agree that they'll place so many ad impressions weighted by page number and position? I'd be very surprised to find that they negotiate on every single placement. Perhaps they would re-negotiate a couple of the ads (next to the headline?) but timing is pretty critical too.

  • Well, duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dancingmad (128588) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:32AM (#28673101)

    I hate the "main-stream media" as much as any one (watching CNN irritates the hell out of me - if I wanted to read Twitter, Rick Sanchez, I would get on the Internet!) and don't even get me started on Fox.

    But this is obvious - there is very little original research going on the Web (the one counter example are the Abu Ghraib pictures as I remember those being posted to Live Journal long before they hit the rest of the media world). It's more of a sounding chamber for things already being reported - commentary more than original research.

    My biggest fear is that the mainstream media is moving in the same direction - closing local branches, relying on Twitter and the Facebook, this competitive advantage that the media has is slowly being dissolved, by itself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dredwerker (757816)
      Demotix [demotix.com] is pretty cool.
      From the site

      'Demotix is a citizen-journalism website and photo agency. It takes user-generated content (UGC) and photographs from freelance journalists and amateurs, and markets them to the mainstream media. Demotix was founded with two principles at its heart - the freedom of speech and the freedom to know. Its objective is nothing if not ambitious - to rescue journalism and promote free expression by connecting independent journalists with the traditional media. Demotix now has

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rbarreira (836272)

      Not true. The financial crisis (the reality of it, not just the optimism parts) has been much better covered by blogs than by traditional media.

  • by jsse (254124) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:41AM (#28673133) Homepage Journal
    Traditional news sometime can even lead the reality. [prisonplanet.com] Bloggers simply cannot top them without psychic or divine intervention.
    • God forbid the confusion of two of the biggest buildings holding stock trading companies being rammed by airliners should lead to a mis-report of which buildings were damaged!

      If Building 7 was damaged, maybe the BBC inked the story before it occured so they'd have the "breaking news" on that, and pre-released by mistake?

      Or, of course, Haliburton and the Rockerfeller's are manipulating the media for personal gain. I'm not trolling, it's potentially true. We won't know about it in our lifetime, though.
    • Traditional news sometime can even lead the reality. [prisonplanet.com]

      If this is a swiftian joke, it's cute, otherwise, move along, nothing to see here..

      Although there is no clock or time stamp on the footage, the source claims the report was given at 4:57pm EST, 23 minutes before Building 7 collapsed at 5:20pm. While the exact time of the report cannot be confirmed at present

  • Self-serving crap (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
    Oh, yeah...the New York Times, the poster child for Old Media, does a story and finds that they are better than the competition. Sorry, but I'd sooner believe an online pharmacy that did a survey and found that it was better than the competition. But, since it has the NYT name on it, the people in the know nod sagely and agree. Anyone shouting "the emperor has no clothes" is deemed as not part of the in-group and escorted to the door, never to be invited to the best parties again.
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:13AM (#28673251) Homepage Journal
    How to shape with twitter in near real time. Iran was a good test run for that. 1000's of fake pro 'green' Iran bursts all at the same time, to get the topic as number one.
    All pre package and ready to look 'organic'.
    Then track and promote the end losers who fall for it and become the real grass roots.
    US Ethno-Political Conflict Simulator: Influencing Leaders and Followers, 3 Oct 2006 should give slashdot readers a taste of the fun the US gov has in the 3rd world.
    The only question is what is been done in the USA via data like this?
    http://wikileaks.org/wiki/US_Ethno-Political_Conflict_Simulator:_Influencing_Leaders_and_Followers%2C_3_Oct_2006 [wikileaks.org]
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I'm not sure what "taste of the fun the US gov has in the 3rd world" you're talking about here. That's a presentation on a simulation system to try to predict how those sorts of decisions are going to turn out, not some shocking leak that - stop the fucking presses - the US government intervenes in international conflicts in ways that benefit the US. Given the incredible awfulness of the presentation, I'm not sure that it's influenced the real world beyond getting that guy research grants by bamboozling the

  • How is this news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:30AM (#28673309)

    Many bloggers comment on the news, but not all bloggers are investigative reporters looking to be the first to break a story. They're just expressing their opinion on the events, when they happen to hear about them.

    If you crawl 90 million articles on blogs and newspapers and average all the times, of course the blogs will be hours behind.

    NY Times is intentionally missing the point, to make themselves feel more relevant.

  • Um, huh, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ysth (1368415) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:06AM (#28673485)
    blogs by and large are about ideas, not news, so it seems like this is an apples and oranges study, discovering (surprise, surprise) that apples are more like apples than oranges are. Now maybe if the study had compared editorials to blogs...
  • by Aceticon (140883) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:06AM (#28673487)

    Hardly surprising.

    The study measured the time that ideas/memes/stories took to come out. Given that nowadays a large number of "stories" are released by politicians/companies and most do so in a tightly controlled way, usually by means of "statements to the press" or "interviews".

    Guess who gets the press passes or the interviews? The press, not the bloggers.

    That said, blogs are almost entirely opinion pieces: they don't break the news, instead they give us the blogger's personal interpretations of the news (or opinion over the state of something or something-else in the world).

    The best blogs are those which analyze multiple news and events and bring them together with other knowledge to show us the patterns and flows behind the public facade: in a sense, investigative journalism on the cheap (they don't usually validate the sources).

    • by pbhj (607776)

      Because newspapers are free of spin and opinion masquerading as plain truth?

  • by Pyrion (525584) *

    How long does traditional news media trail behind TotalFark?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:16AM (#28673517)

    If you define "news" as stories like "lipstick on a pig," of course Old Media is going to lead. They invented those stories in the first place, pulling memes out of their collective asses and headlining them in explosions of inanity, while ignoring real issues. If the study focused on phrases like "obama secrecy," "12 trillion to banks," or "single-payer healthcare," I doubt Old Media would even register.

  • by crossmr (957846) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:51AM (#28673625) Journal

    I'm sure all of us have looked at digg once or twice and there are blog posts that get made quite popular there, develop a following and then end up in the paper.
    In fact anything that originates on the internet is likely to be reported about first in a blog than "traditional media".
    Many local stories might end up getting reported about first on a blog before "traditional media" if they're not high profile. The news has to get a reporter there first. then film it or write it. A blogger can see it, and do it right away if they have a smartphone or as soon as they get home/to a pc.

    • Blogs report quick & dirty facts.
      Newspapers report facts (most of the time) with a little background detail (Why, What, When, Who, Where).
      Magazines report opinions and analysis of facts covered by Newspapers.
      TV stations report sensationlism. Octomom, Angelina Jolie, etc.
      Wading through all this for NEWS is difficult.
      I can't sue a Newspaper or a Magazine for false reporting. I sure can sue a Blogger.

      • by Smidge204 (605297)

        SOME blogs report quick & dirty facts.

        MOST blogs copy and paste (often verbatim) other blogs. It's a crapshoot whether they actually add anything of their own to the story. Only a fraction of them will actually expand on the news with useful commentary or additional information.

        I've ranted on this before, and in the spirit of not repeating myself I'll simply link to it.

        Link'd [slashdot.org].

        =Smidge=

      • by crossmr (957846)

        Not always, as was already pointed out. My point though was the capability of the various sources based on geographical proximity to the event and their publishing method.
        bloggers who actively write about local things will probably trump the traditional media most times. Someone who blogs about something that is far away from him/her needs to read it somewhere else first.

        Cut and paste blog spam needs to be done away with. I'm not sure what the point is.. I think they're just trying to do SEO and generate tr

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:53AM (#28673639)

    News organizations lead blogs, it's true, but they suffer repeated embarrassment as respondants do actual fact checking.

    Maybe the lesson here is they should hold their tongues and do real investigations into the issues they cover and offer balanced analysis rather than regurgitate press releases or empty ideological sound bytes.

    Blogs would lose relevance quickly if the news sources themselves provided this analysis along with truly open, community moderated, meta-moderated, and meta-meta-moderated response columns to help add any unmentioned perspectives, updates, or corrections.

    If traditional outlets don't take the time to properly research and compose their stories and don't offer true opportunities for community feedback they will always run second string to the likes of slashdot, reddit, and the daily show.

  • by EWAdams (953502) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:45AM (#28674131) Homepage
    99% of the content of blogs is personal blather or links to other stuff on the web. BFD. News organizations actually -- here's a shock -- gather the news, with people who are paid to do it.
    • by pbhj (607776)

      99% of the content of blogs is personal blather or links to other stuff on the web. BFD. News organizations actually -- here's a shock -- gather the news, with people who are paid to do it.

      News organisations gather the news from the people who _could_ blog it.

      Reporter: "Here we are at the suburbs of Wattsville speaking to John Adams, tell us John when did you first know there was trouble?"
      JA: "Well I noticed the flames licking over the hill about 2am, so I went ahead and blogged it whilst I phoned for the fire team."
      Reporter: "You mean the world wide web knew about the fire before the fire department?"
      JA: "Yeah, maybe, they sometimes take a while to answer the phone. 12 hours later my phone w

  • retractions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daveb (4522) <davebremerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:47AM (#28674145) Homepage

    although most news flowed from the traditional media to the blogs, 3.5 percent of story lines originated in the blogs and later made their way to traditional media.

    I wonder what percentage were later retracted as completely bogus. Jeff Goldblume might be able to point out one recent issue

  • You have to define 'news' pretty carefully to make this claim true.

    If you only look at stories that were on Mainstream Media, then their numbers are probably pretty close.

    If you look at news reported by bloggers, MSM doesn't even report the vast majority of it. 'New KDE Release' has -never- been on MSM, yet it's 'news' to me and I value the information.

    • by Legion303 (97901)

      You also have to take into account corporate media's enormous shift away from traditional reporting and towards pure entertainment in the past couple of decades. "Obama Submits SCOTUS Nominee" is news. "Exclusive Photos of Obama at the Beach" is not.

  • by Legion303 (97901) on Monday July 13, 2009 @08:02AM (#28674527) Homepage

    After reading through the paper, I see it's clear the authors didn't test news content at all, just soundbites. So for example, they search for the Sarah Palin quote:

    "Our opponent is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." ...and close derivatives of if on Google News, then on blogs to see where it appeared first. The problem with this methodology is that traditional media tended to report the quote uncritically, while the blogs took it and dissected it. In other words, corporate "news" media did fuck-all for reporting on the topic. The blogs did actual reporting work and found out that Palin was stretching the truth (surprise!), examined the facts behind her claim, and generally did the work mainstream media failed to do themselves.

    So the bottom line is, if you want to know who can regurgitate phrases faster, the paper makes it clear that mainstream media is the obvious winner. If you want in-depth reporting, look to the web.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday July 13, 2009 @08:10AM (#28674605)

    I use my family members to track public awareness -- my mom listens to safe, comfy nutritionless mainstream media products from NBC, my dad listens to right wing hate radio, and my sister tries to avoid hearing anything about anything but leans progressive.

    My dad is marginally better informed than my sister if only because they can't lie about everything and some nuggets of truth slip through. If you assign a negative weight to all the stuff he knows that just isn't so, he's far less informed.

    My mom only knows what the MSM wants to cover but has gradually come to distrust it. Over the eight years of Boosh, I would keep bringing up things she had not heard of only to hear then six to twelve months later on the news. It's not that this stuff wasn't out there to be discovered, it's just that nobody was talking about it. Say a bit of news gets flushed out on an Infodump Friday, the blogs would pick it up and talk about it even as the talking heads ignored it. Enough blog interest could eventually make the story big enough for the MSM to start covering it again. What finally convinced her that NBC is morally bankrupt was seeing that insidious little investment gnome Cramer go on Jon Stewart, get his ass handed to him, then show up on the Today show a few days later doing his same old schtick. This was a man revealed to the world as a fraud and yet there were no consequences. "Of course there aren't. Morning shows like this are one big commercial. There's the little 30 second ones and then there's the longer ones with the hosts. They put Cramer on to drum up interest for his CNBC show."

    A really telling figure is that the ratings for the various professional news outlets are very, very minuscule compared to the size of the nation. A top-rated cable news show will have a million viewers and that's compared to a nation of 300 million?

    I think a better study would be trying to figure out the permeation level of the news sources through the society at large. It seems like most people are completely disconnected like my sister and only find out things through hearsay. So if Rush Limbaugh puts out the idea that Obama has a fake birth certificate, if that little meme goes beyond his shows and people who never listen to him start believing it, that's an influence far beyond his nominal audience. Second-hand disinformation? Goebbels called this sort of thing the Big Lie but I call it the "big penis stunt." I start talking about having a 12-inch dick. At first, the response will be "no, you don't" and "perv!" But if I keep talking about it, eventually the comments will shift from challenging the existence of my 12-inch dick to my talking about it. This presupposes the existence of the prodigious prong and now the debate is over whether it's appropriate to discuss in public. Doesn't matter if I'm actually hung like a Ken doll, everyone else knows I'm not.

    • by CokeBear (16811)

      The purpose of your entire post was just to brag about your size, wasn't it

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        The purpose of your entire post was just to brag about your size, wasn't it

        Brag? "Ken Doll" means nonexistent.

  • Where do you think the "news" bloggers get their news?

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