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Popularity is not the same as influence:
A study of the San Francisco Bay Area News System
David Ryfe, Donica Mensing, Hayreddin Ceker, Mehmet Gunes
University of Nevada, Reno
Presented at the International Symposium on Online Journalism
University of Texas, Austin | April 2012
What are the dynamics of the
emerging news network in the
San Francisco Bay area, particularly
in relation to agenda setting?
• 114 “seed” sites
• Traditional news outlets to one-person
neighborhood blogs
• Updated at least weekly and focused
primarily on issues of public interest
To record hyperlinks, we used a modified
version of the WebSPHINX crawler software
program. A crawler catalogs each hyperlink it
finds on every page of a site. These data
compose the corpus for our study.
Cluster of seed sitesSeed sites network
Site Inbound links
mercurynews.com 57,944
siliconvalley.com 32,765
insidebayarea.com 28,299
sf.curbed.com 25,699
sf.eater.com 22,480
sfgate.com 16,600
almanacnews.com 14,316
contracostatimes.com 12,971
paloaltoonline.com 2,885
sfist.com 2,763
Number of links from other news sites in the Bay Area
Site Outbound links
sf.eater.com 39,180
contracostatimes.com 37,178
mercurynews.com 34,270
sf.curbed.com 31,840
insidebayarea.com 30,140
ibabuzz.com 27,806
paloaltoonline.com 14,319
lamorinda.patch.com 4,916
coastsider.com 3,936
thefrontsteps.com 2,619
……..sfgate.com 26
Number of links to other news sites in the Bay Area
Traditional media sites are by far the most popular
sites in the Bay Area news system
The top five sites according to the Eigenvector centrality,
which measures the degree to which a node is connected to
other nodes that are central to a network:
sfgate.com = 1.0
mercurynews.com = .76
abclocal.go.com = .63
insidebayarea.com = .62
contracostatimes.com = .58
Media News Group links in and out
Preferential attachment theory
http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~pdw/topology/ScaleFree.html
Power Law Distribution
• Nine of the 114 sites attracted 85% of all
in-bound links.
• Seven of the 114 sites account for 87% of all
out-bound links.
• Seven of the nine most linked-to sites are
owned by traditional media companies.
Measures of “closeness centrality”
in the Bay area news system
Site Closeness Measure
Alamanacnews.com 4.009
Danvilleexpress.com 4
Halfmoonbay.patch.com 3.91
Belmont-ca.patch.com 3.91
Sfbayview.com 3.78
Pacificsun.com 3.76
Communityrejuvenation.blogspot.com 3.6
Claycord.com 3.51
Siliconvalley.com 3.4
Pleasantonweekly.com 3.32
Links to SFGate.com
Major nonprofits
In and out links to other seed sites
Argument 1:
Links can represent popularity but not
necessarily influence. Sites that attract
the most links are not necessarily the
most influential.
Argument 2:
The linking practices of traditional news
sites in the Bay area reveal an emphasis
on commercialism and a voluntary
weakening of agenda setting authority.
Argument 3:
An emerging network of nonprofit
news sites has the potential for agenda
setting influence that could fill the void
left by mainstream media.
Interested in collaboration?
Email me: dmensing@unr.edu

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Mensing

  • 1. Popularity is not the same as influence: A study of the San Francisco Bay Area News System David Ryfe, Donica Mensing, Hayreddin Ceker, Mehmet Gunes University of Nevada, Reno Presented at the International Symposium on Online Journalism University of Texas, Austin | April 2012
  • 2. What are the dynamics of the emerging news network in the San Francisco Bay area, particularly in relation to agenda setting?
  • 3. • 114 “seed” sites • Traditional news outlets to one-person neighborhood blogs • Updated at least weekly and focused primarily on issues of public interest To record hyperlinks, we used a modified version of the WebSPHINX crawler software program. A crawler catalogs each hyperlink it finds on every page of a site. These data compose the corpus for our study.
  • 4. Cluster of seed sitesSeed sites network
  • 5. Site Inbound links mercurynews.com 57,944 siliconvalley.com 32,765 insidebayarea.com 28,299 sf.curbed.com 25,699 sf.eater.com 22,480 sfgate.com 16,600 almanacnews.com 14,316 contracostatimes.com 12,971 paloaltoonline.com 2,885 sfist.com 2,763 Number of links from other news sites in the Bay Area
  • 6. Site Outbound links sf.eater.com 39,180 contracostatimes.com 37,178 mercurynews.com 34,270 sf.curbed.com 31,840 insidebayarea.com 30,140 ibabuzz.com 27,806 paloaltoonline.com 14,319 lamorinda.patch.com 4,916 coastsider.com 3,936 thefrontsteps.com 2,619 ……..sfgate.com 26 Number of links to other news sites in the Bay Area
  • 7. Traditional media sites are by far the most popular sites in the Bay Area news system The top five sites according to the Eigenvector centrality, which measures the degree to which a node is connected to other nodes that are central to a network: sfgate.com = 1.0 mercurynews.com = .76 abclocal.go.com = .63 insidebayarea.com = .62 contracostatimes.com = .58
  • 8. Media News Group links in and out
  • 11. Power Law Distribution • Nine of the 114 sites attracted 85% of all in-bound links. • Seven of the 114 sites account for 87% of all out-bound links. • Seven of the nine most linked-to sites are owned by traditional media companies.
  • 12. Measures of “closeness centrality” in the Bay area news system Site Closeness Measure Alamanacnews.com 4.009 Danvilleexpress.com 4 Halfmoonbay.patch.com 3.91 Belmont-ca.patch.com 3.91 Sfbayview.com 3.78 Pacificsun.com 3.76 Communityrejuvenation.blogspot.com 3.6 Claycord.com 3.51 Siliconvalley.com 3.4 Pleasantonweekly.com 3.32
  • 14. Major nonprofits In and out links to other seed sites
  • 15. Argument 1: Links can represent popularity but not necessarily influence. Sites that attract the most links are not necessarily the most influential.
  • 16. Argument 2: The linking practices of traditional news sites in the Bay area reveal an emphasis on commercialism and a voluntary weakening of agenda setting authority.
  • 17. Argument 3: An emerging network of nonprofit news sites has the potential for agenda setting influence that could fill the void left by mainstream media.
  • 18. Interested in collaboration? Email me: dmensing@unr.edu