Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bloggers and Sources

Bloggers who focus on local news rely most heavily on their own original reporting and sources than they do on newspapers, according to a study published in the latest Newspaper Research Journal.

The author analyzed the content of 100 local blogs from across the country (2,246 posts).  Rather than rely on their newspapers, bloggers "were actually more likely to use original sources--including primary documents and original reporting--than traditional media sources."  

That said, use of material from newspapers far outranked blogger use of local TV news, hardly surprising given its quality and lack of presence in all markets.

Overall, original sources and reporting accounted for about one-quarter of blogger content.   Newspapers were the source of about 20 percent of the content, TV about 3 percent.  The rest came from a category called "online" or "other."

There were significant differences among types of news stories, of course.  State and national economic news produced by newspapers, for example, made up nearly a third of all blogger content on that topic.  But let's look at the category of news called city/county government/politics.  That's the meat-and-potatoes of local news.  Blogger content came from:
  • Newspapers: 23.0 percent
  • TV: 2.3 percent
  • Online: 33.7 percent (non-MSM sites, other blogs, etc.)
  • Original Sources: 12.5 percent
  • Original Reporting: 20.4 percent
  • Other: 8.2 percent
As you can see above, for local government news, the main source for bloggers is other blogs or non-mainstream news sources.  Next comes traditional newspapers, then original reporting.  If we collapse the two "original" categories into a single group, though, it outranks papers.

What don't we know from this?  The quality of the stories, obviously, their tone and factual content.  But this is an interesting step in understanding where bloggers get their starting points for stories.

For you academic nerds, the full cite:  Watson, B. R.  (2012).  Bloggers rely on sources outside traditional media.  Newspaper Research Journal, 33, 20-33.

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