About the New Media Index
The New Media Index is a weekly report that captures the leading commentary of blogs and social media sites and compares their subjects to that of the mainstream press.
PEJ launched the New Media Index in January 2009 as a companion to its weekly News Coverage Index. Blogs and other new media are an important part of creating today's news information narrative and in shaping the way Americans interact with the news. The expansion of blogs and other social media sites has allowed news-consumers and others outside the mainstream press to have more of a role in agenda setting, dissemination and interpretation. PEJ wanted to find out what subjects in the national news the online sites focus on, and how that compared with the narrative in the traditional press.
In August 2011, the Project updated its methodology and diversified the organizations it uses to gather and sort the top news stories each day.
For tracking the blogosphere, two prominent tracking sites, Technorati and Icerocket, monitor millions of blogs and other pieces of social media, using the links to web pages embedded on these sites as a proxy for determining what these subjects are. Tweetmeme and Twitturly provide a similar service for the millions of posts on Twitter. Using these tracking sites as a base, PEJ researchers compile the lists of links each weekday. Staff captures the top five linked-to stories on each list (100 stories in all each week), reads, watches or listens to these posts and conducts a content analysis of their subject matter, just as it does for the mainstream press in its weekly News Coverage Index.
Each of the tracking sites determine their lists of most popular posts using an algorithm made up of several characteristics including the number of links that go to a given URL. Each time a blog or tweet includes a link directing its readers to a web page, it suggests that the author places at least some importance on the content of that post. The author may or may not agree with the contents of the story, but they feel it is important enough to draw the reader's attention to it. PEJ measures the topics that are of most interest to users of social media by compiling the quantitative information on links and analyzing the results.
The Project also tracks the most popular news video on YouTube each week.
*For the sake of authenticity, PEJ has a policy of not correcting misspellings that appear in direct quotes from blog postings.
Note: PEJ's weekly News Coverage Index includes Sunday newspapers while the New Media Index is Monday through Friday.