The Year in News 2010
Blogs and Twitter: Two Very Different News Agendas
The agenda in new media varied in some respects from the mainstream press and echoed it in others in 2010.
Bloggers and the mainstream media agreed on four of the top five stories—the economy, the midterm elections, the health care debate and the war in Afghanistan, according to PEJ’s New Media Index.
Yet the index—which studies which news-related subjects bloggers and Twitter users are linking to—found that the discussion about the news on Twitter was fundamentally different. None of the top five mainstream or blogger subjects made the Twitter list of five top stories.
The agenda on blogs was remarkably close to that of the mainstream media, according to PEJ’s research. Blogs shared nine of the top 10 stories in 2010 with the mainstream media. That list included the economy (10%), the 2010 elections (5%) and evaluations of the Obama Administration (4%). The only differences were that the bloggers included the tea party (at 2%) and the mainstream media included the Haiti earthquake (at 2%).
Not so on Twitter. The top four stories in Twitter feeds in 2010 were all about marquee brands in the digital era: Apple (13%), Google (9%), Twitter itself (7%) and Facebook (also 7%).
There was also more international flavor to the Twitter communication. Four of the top 10 subjects for the year involved overseas issues, including the war in Afghanistan (2%), the Haiti earthquake (2%), the European economy (2%) and elections in the UK (1%). One other top 10 story on Twitter, the WikiLeaks document disseminations (2%), also had a significant international angle.
The dominance of technology topics on Twitter also suggests that the platform has a different function than the mainstream press or even blogs. At least for now, users employ Twitter in part as a consumer affairs forum, to publicize, share and critique new gadgets and advances.
By contrast, the bloggers focused on the news studied by PEJ were much more closely tied to events that mirrored the mainstream media agenda. Much of the bloggers’ conversation tended to be a debate, and often an ideological one, and hot-button issues such as global warming and President Obama’s performance are often prominent.
In that way, the findings suggest, the blogosphere partly resembles an online version of cable or radio talk shows. That is rarely seen on Twitter, according to the research.
Yet all this may evolve in the years ahead as users find new platforms and technologies and as social media, such as Facebook, becomes an even more prominent means of exchange.
The Year in News 2010