April 1, 2009

Legacy Media Lead Blogs in Citizen Participation

Percent Legacy News Citizen Blogs
E-mail available 98 74
Phone number available 88 9
Address available 81 7
Polls or surveys present 42 12
Ability to post letters to the editor 41 16
Ability to post photos 34 9
Ability to Post news/featured stories 32 16
Forums present 31 36

42%—Percentage of legacy news sites with polls or surveys

Traditional or legacy media may have been slow to embrace new technology and the Internet. But a  PEJ and Knight Foundation study of more than 360 journalism sites in 46 markets found that these days, the legacy media web sites offer more opportunity for users to interact than do citizen blogs.

According to the study, citizen-run blogs (those offering primarily commentary and links) trailed legacy news sites in nearly every aspect of interactivity examined.  E-mail was the only option for contacting the individual or group managing the site for most blogs—with  three quarters of the blogs studied (74%) providing this information. Nearly every traditional news site (98%) provided an e-mail address. Additionally, legacy sites frequently posted phone numbers (88%) and addresses (81%)—information largely absent on blogs.

In a number of ways, the legacy sites also made it easier for users to contribute by posting letters to the editor, photos and news or feature stories. In addition, nearly half the sites allowed readers to respond to surveys or polls.  However, citizen blogs do stand out for the amount of internet discussion sites, or forums. Fully 36% of blogs offered public forums compared with 31% of legacy news sites.

To learn more about how citizen news is becoming a major factor in journalism, read the full study, which is available in the special reports chapter of the State of the Media 2009 report.

Tricia Sartor and Dana Page of PEJ