Research questionsRQ1: What are the leading political blogs inFrance and Australia?RQ2: What role do blogs play in politicaldebates?RQ3: How do blogs use mainstream andalternative media sources in their commentary,and how does this use vary in coveringdifferent issues and topics?
Research questionsRQ4: Does topical discussion by politicalbloggers take different forms in Australia andFrance, reflecting different network structures,range of blogs contributing, and blog roles, anddo the political and media situations of the twocountries contribute to this?
Project structureLeading blogs identified through trackingactivity between January and August 2009.Three case studies used to identify topicalvariations, using different aspects of thetheoretical framework.
Project structure1. The Obama inauguration, 16 – 25 January 2009 framing2. HADOPI, January to August 2009 agenda-setting3. Utegate, June to August 2009 opinion leaders
FramingHow news events are presented, the themesfavoured in coverage, and the perspectivesfeatured all form part of the framing of theevent, highlighting what are seen as theimportant aspects of the storyDo bloggers favour their own perspectives inframing events? Do they maintain the sameframes as journalists, not having time toreposition coverage?
Agenda-settingMedia coverage of given issues, the amount ofstories dedicated to them, and the keyattributes used in coverage, shape publicopinion.Do blogs set their own agenda? Is there areliance on mainstream media coverage, andthe corresponding agenda, or are themainstream media cut out altogether? Docitations vary between blogs with differentlevels of engagement with the issue?
Opinion leadersInformation flows from media source to widerpublic via opinion leaders, acting as a filter oraggregator for important or interesting reportsDo the major hubs of the blogosphere, the mostactive sites overall or the A-list, fulfil anopinion leader function? Does the critiquing ofmedia sources correspond to this role?
Blogging and themainstream mediaBlogs as a fifth estate? Gathering,correcting, critiquing, responding to thework of the mainstream media?Complementing the work of journalists?Keeping stories alive when other sourcesstop covering them, or overly reliant onother sources for coverage?
Data collectionA list of French and Australian political blogsprepared, with blog posts and link datacollected by research associatesLars Kirchhoff and Thomas Nicolai,Sociomantic Labs, Berlin sociomantic.comData collection process run between12 January and 10 August 2009Relevant aspects of blog postsprepared for analysis by Sociomantic
MethodsHyperlink analysis / network analysisThe popular resources for political bloggersover time and within specific contexts wereidentified by studying the links made withinselected postsTextual analysisBloggers’ responses to events and the dominantthemes being discussed were identified byanalysing the text content of selected posts
The French political blogosphere,January – August 2009148 blogs22,939 postsMajor resources:Dailymotion, WikipediaMainstream media:Le Monde, Le Figaro, LiberationAlternative media:Rue89
0 50 100 150 200 250 30012/01/200919/01/200926/01/2009 2/02/2009 9/02/200916/02/200923/02/2009 2/03/2009 9/03/200916/03/200923/03/200930/03/2009 6/04/200913/04/200920/04/200927/04/2009 4/05/200911/05/200918/05/2009 January – August 200925/05/2009 1/06/2009 8/06/200915/06/200922/06/200929/06/2009 6/07/200913/07/200920/07/2009 The French political blogosphere,27/07/2009 3/08/200910/08/2009
The Australian political blogosphere,January – August 200961 blogs10,530 postsMajor resources:Mainstream media:The Australian, The Age,SMH, ABCYouTube, Wikipedia, FlickrInternational media:The Guardian, New York Times
0 20 40 60 80 100 12012/01/200916/01/200920/01/200924/01/200928/01/2009 1/02/2009 5/02/2009 9/02/200913/02/200917/02/200921/02/200925/02/2009 1/03/2009 5/03/2009 9/03/200913/03/200917/03/200921/03/200925/03/200929/03/2009 2/04/2009 6/04/200910/04/200914/04/200918/04/200922/04/200926/04/200930/04/2009 4/05/2009 8/05/200912/05/200916/05/200920/05/2009 January – August 200924/05/200928/05/2009 1/06/2009 5/06/2009 9/06/200913/06/200917/06/200921/06/200925/06/200929/06/2009 3/07/2009 7/07/200911/07/200915/07/200919/07/200923/07/200927/07/200931/07/2009 4/08/2009 8/08/2009 The Australian political blogosphere,
Topical networksLooking at composite data does not show anyvariations over time or topic. Topical networksused to study the blog discussions aroundevents and political issuesRelevant posts located through keywordsearches within a specific range of dates(inauguration) or the wider data set (HADOPIand Utegate)
Case Study 1: Framing the Obama inaugurationSource:http://www.flickr.com/photos/hourann/3214442663/
0 5 10 15 20 2516/01/200917/01/200918/01/200919/01/2009 Case Study 1:20/01/200921/01/200922/01/200923/01/200924/01/200925/01/2009 Framing the Obama inauguration French inauguration blog posts
Case Study 1:Framing the Obama inauguration French inauguration themes
0 5 10 15 20 2516/01/200917/01/200918/01/200919/01/2009 Case Study 1:20/01/200921/01/200922/01/200923/01/200924/01/2009 Framing the Obama inauguration25/01/2009 Australian inauguration blog posts
Case Study 1:Framing the Obama inauguration Australian inauguration concept map
Case Study 1:Framing the Obama inauguration Australian inauguration themes
Case Study 1:Framing the Obama inaugurationFrench blogs more likely to frame event withinlocal contextsAustralian blog coverage more focussed onObama-specific topics (not necessarily ceremony)Rather than just using frames constructed bymainstream media, bloggers use content, andassociated frames, from sources relevant to theirinterests
Case Study 2: Agenda-setting and HADOPISources:http://www.laquadrature.net/fr/guide-du-blackout-HADOPIhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/whisperpress/3473782331/
0 5 10 15 20 2518/01/200925/01/2009 1/02/2009 8/02/200915/02/200922/02/2009 1/03/2009 8/03/200915/03/200922/03/200929/03/2009 5/04/2009 Case Study 2:12/04/200919/04/200926/04/2009 3/05/200910/05/200917/05/200924/05/200931/05/2009 7/06/200914/06/200921/06/2009 Agenda-setting and HADOPI28/06/2009 5/07/200912/07/200919/07/200926/07/2009 2/08/2009 9/08/2009
Case Study 2: Agenda-setting and HADOPISources:http://www.flickr.com/photos/whisperpress/3473781837/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwssAerG4gchttp://www.laquadrature.net/fr/guide-du-blackout-HADOPI
Case Study 2:Agenda-setting and HADOPISpikes vs. Non-spikeTopical resources used for immediatereactions, unexpected events - mainstream andalternative media used more often in non-spikeperiod than spikesWidest range of sources cited in days followingspikes, drawing on multiple perspectives inanalysing events
Case Study 2:Agenda-setting and HADOPITiers of blogging1: campaigners / topic-specific2: the most active outside the topic (A-list)3: the occasionally active
Case Study 2:Agenda-setting and HADOPISources used suggest revision of agenda-settingto include wider range of references onlineBreaking news accompanied by raw material,social media reactions – longer responses andwider citations follow laterMainstream media agenda negligible for firsttier blogs, part of wider mediasphere citationsfor second tier
Case Study 3:Utegate and opinion leadersSource:Utegate, as told by LOLCATShttp://dailylolz.lolpolz.com/2009/06/coming-soon.html
Case Study 3:Utegate and opinion leadersUtegate example of more general politicaldebate than the topical HADOPI networkBlogs rejecting mainstream media coverage ofthe scandal, set alternative agenda aroundother issuesAggregating relevant coverage for audience,linking to attentive, topical clusters
DiscussionFraming, agenda-setting, and opinion leadersapplicable across all three case studiesTopical variations for extent of mainstreammedia framing or agenda-setting effectsBlogs use range of mainstream and alternativemedia content, other blogs, topic-specificresources in their coverage, positioned withinbloggers’ political views and interests
DiscussionRole of blogs in political debate variable, withcase studies showing campaigning,gatewatching, alternative commentary,subject-specific analysis major contributions totopical discussionsWhile mainstream media sources dominatetotal citations, case studies see topicalresources as primary references. Use variesover time and context.
DiscussionFrench blogs reference greater range of localmedia, both mainstream and alternative,Australian bloggers more international media.Reflective of respective media situations as wellas language?Similar roles present within both blogospheres,such as filter blogs and aggregators. Greaterdiversity of views amongst French blogs, morepartisan blogs, but more specialists in Australia– polling data cluster?
Further requirementsRevision of case studies, literature reviewOverview of French and Australian politicalblogging, discussion around the overall datacollectedPositioning Utegate analysis within opinionleaders frameworkFinal discussion
Further directionsTracking specific political identities – Sarkozy,Rudd, Turnbull, Obama – or themes – GFC,climate change – throughout the whole corpusConnections between blogs and social media –how Twitter users cover these events,campaigns, references used on Twitter vs.those cited in blog postsComments on posts, the commenting audiencefor specific blogs
AcknowledgementsAxel Bruns and Jason SternbergLars Kirchhoff and Thomas Nicolai
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