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Schmidt Jan How Do Blogs Comment On Msm


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Presentation at the GOR 2009, 7.4.2009, Vienna

Published in: Technology, News & Politics
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Schmidt Jan How Do Blogs Comment On Msm

  1. 1. How do Blogs comment on Mainstream Media Content? Results from a link analysis <ul><ul><li>Dr. Jan Schmidt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Senior Researcher for digital interactive media and political communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Vienna, 08.04.2009 </li></ul></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>Background: Blogs and Mainstream Media </li></ul><ul><li>Findings from an empirical study </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions and future research questions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Blogs and Mainstream Media <ul><li>Both research and public debate about blogs is focussing on the relationship between this new format of online-based communication and established journalistic practices </li></ul><ul><li>Some voices claim that blogs will overthrow mainstream media and revolutionize the way news and public affairs will be presented (e.g. Hewitt 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>However, empirical studies point out that blogs do not directly compete with, but rather complement the activities of professional journalists (see Neuberger/Nürnbergk/Rischke 2007; Schmidt 2007) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Professional Journalists and MSM use blogs as channels themselves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bloggers follow different routines for selecting and presenting information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Selection of topics: personal relevance rather than universal/societal relevance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presentation of topics: personal authenticity and subjectivity rather than objectivity </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Recent Findings <ul><li>Recent research is focussing on the relation and interdependence of journalistic publics and the blogosphere </li></ul><ul><li>Reese et al. (2007) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>analysis of the linking patterns of six top-ranking american blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> “ The blogosphere relies heavily on professional news reports” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Messner/DiStaso (2008) – “The source cycle” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(a) Content analysis of 2.059 articles from New York Times and Washington Post </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> “ newspapers increasingly legitimized weblogs as credible source” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(b) Content analysis of 120 weblogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> “ they heavily relied on traditional media as sources” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Walejko/Ksiazek (2008) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis of 600 blogposts from political and science blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> about one third of the sources are traditional news sites </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Open Questions <ul><li>Data for the german-speaking blogosphere shows that (excluding Wikipedia) MSM are very often linked to by blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Expanding from these findings, three research questions were formulated: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RQ1: In which context do blogs refer to text or videos produced by journalistic outlets? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RQ2: Do blogs criticize or approve professionally selected and produced information? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RQ3: Are there differences within the blogosphere itself, e.g. do blogs with a large audience differ in their reactions from those with small publics? </li></ul></ul>Source:, Feb 2008 /
  6. 6. Selected target sites <ul><li>Analysis of links from blogs to the 20 most linked-to german journalistic sites as well as to the five most linked-to german-speaking blogs (control group) </li></ul> Blogs MSM (2) MSM (1)
  7. 7. Construction of the dataset <ul><li>The final dataset included only links from german-speaking, non-automated Blogs </li></ul>Resulting N Step 1.168 <ul><li>Excluding links </li></ul><ul><li>Self-referencing (e.g. linking to </li></ul><ul><li>Spam-Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Other sites (newsboards etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Links from non-german postings </li></ul>1.750 Drawing a random sample of 70 links from each of the 25 sets 15.000 Retrieving the latest 600 links for 25 sites through the Technorati API (thanks to Jens Schröder for the help)
  8. 8. Codeplan <ul><li>Link Context [on linking site] </li></ul><ul><ul><li>static sidebar link/blogroll </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>automated link from embedded RSS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>plain link w/o additional context </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>as source for a specific claim </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>part of a link collection </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In addition to Technorati data (esp. on the centrality of the linking Blog), links were manually coded for various characteristics, including: </li></ul><ul><li>Gender of the blog author </li></ul><ul><li>Link Target [on linked-to site] </li></ul><ul><ul><li>main site </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>thematic category </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>specific article </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Evaluation of the linked-to content [on linking site] </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neutral </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Negative </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coding was done by two research assistants (thanks to Julia Gutjahr and Norman Müller) </li></ul><ul><li>Inter-Coder-Reliability ranged from .97 to .84 </li></ul>
  9. 9. Descriptives (1) <ul><li>Centrality of linking Blogs follows the typical „power law“-distribution </li></ul>Technorati measures „authority“ as number of other Blogs that link to a given site within last 180 days. Fig. 1: Distribution of Technorati Authority among linking blogs (N=1.168) <ul><li>Average Authority: 50 </li></ul><ul><li>Median Authority: 11 </li></ul>
  10. 10. Descriptives (2) Fig. 2: Target of the link (in %; N=1.168) <ul><li>The large majority of links is pointing to specific articles/videos/blog postings </li></ul>
  11. 11. Descriptives (3) <ul><li>Most links (~ 90%) are placed in the context of a posting with original content by the blog author </li></ul><ul><ul><li>About a third of the links is used as a source for a statement or claim </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More than half of the links are part of a posting where other sources are referenced as well </li></ul></ul>Fig. 3: Context of link (in %; N=1.087)
  12. 12. Descriptives (4) <ul><li>A large majority of the links makes no evaluating statement on the source of the link </li></ul><ul><li>Of those who do, slightly more links are placed in a positive context than in a negative </li></ul>Fig. 4: Evaluation of linked-to site/article (in %; N=1.087)
  13. 13. Descriptives (4) <ul><li>Content from the five Top Blogs gets slightly less negative evaluations, but the difference is not significant </li></ul>Fig. 5: Evaluation of linked-to site/article – MSM & Blogs compared (in %; N=1.087) Chi²=3.849, df=2, n.s.
  14. 14. Descriptives (4) <ul><li>Content from broadcasting sites gets the most positive as well as the most negative evaluations </li></ul>Fig. 6: Evaluation of linked-to site/article – different types of media compared (in %; N=1.087) Chi²=13.958, df=4, phi=.114** ; online-only omitted
  15. 15. Descriptives (4) <ul><li>Content from publicly funded sites (i.e. of the public broadcasting stations) is more often positively evaluated than Blog-based content and content from private competitors </li></ul>Fig. 7: Evaluation of linked-to site/article – different types of funding compared (in %; N=1.087) Chi²=11.299, df=4, phi=.102*
  16. 16. Descriptives (4) <ul><li>Central Blogs are slightly more critical of MSM content, but the difference is statistically not significant </li></ul>Fig. 8: Evaluation of links to MSM – different degrees of centrality compared (in %; N=827) „ A-List“: Authority > 50 (18 %); long tail: authority < 50 (72 %)
  17. 17. Descriptives (4) <ul><li>Central Blogs are more critical of content in the Top 5 Blogs, while blogs from the „long tail“ are more positive </li></ul>Fig. 9: Evaluation of links to Blogs – different degrees of centrality compared (in %; N=260) Chi²=8.109, df=2, phi=.177* „ A-List“: Authority > 50 (18 %); long tail: authority < 50 (72 %)
  18. 18. Conclusion <ul><ul><li>RQ1: In which context do blogs refer to text or videos produced by journalistic outlets? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Links to MSM are usually placed as source for statements or claims, mostly in combination with links to other sites (blogs or other MSM) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> In Blogs, additional communication about and dissmenination of MSM content takes place </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RQ2: Do blogs criticize or approve professionally selected and produced information? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Generally, most links from blogs are without any evaluative claims; if they are, they are more often positive than negative </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Significant (but nevertheless small) differences exist with respect to different types of MSM </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> B logs mostly channel attention towards journalistically produced content, thus complementing rather than replacing (or attempting to replace) MSM media </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RQ3: Are there differences within the blogosphere itself? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A-List Blogs are more critical towards other top blogs than they are towards MSM </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> Direction of causality not clear: Are A-List blogs more popular because the criticize MSM? Or do they criticize MSM because they feel that they are becoming more „similar“? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Thank you for your attention. <ul><li>Dr. Jan Schmidt </li></ul><ul><li>Hans-Bredow-Institut </li></ul><ul><li>Warburgstr. 8-10, 20354 Hamburg </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  20. 20. Bibliography <ul><ul><li>Hewitt, H. (2005): Blog. Understanding the information reformation that’s changing your world. Nashville. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Messner, M. & M. Watson DiStaso (2008): The Source Cycle. How traditional media and weblogs use each other as sources. In: Journalism Studies, Vol. 9, No 3, 2008, 447-463. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neuberger, C., C. Nuernbergk & M. Rischke (2007): Weblogs und Journalismus: Konkurrenz, Ergänzung oder Integration? In: Media-Perspektiven, issue 2, 96-112. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reese, S.D. et al. (2007): Mapping the blogosphere. Professional and citizen-based media in the global news arena. In: Journalism, 8, 235–261. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schmidt, Jan (2007): Blogging practices in the german-speaking blogosphere. Empirical findings from the ‘Wie ich blogge?!”-survey’, Nr. 07-02. Bamberg. Online verfügbar: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Waleiko, G. & T. Ksiazek (2008): Blogging from the Niches: The Sourcing Patterns of Political and Science Bloggers. Presentation at the „Internet Research 9.0 conference“, Copenhagen, October 16-18. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>About a quarter of the postings in the final dataset link to a blog, about a third to websites of newspapers/weekly magazines, the rest to websites of broadcasters </li></ul>Fig. XX Targeted site (in %; N=1.168) the online-only „netzeitung“ accounts for the missing 1,4%