New Media, Old Media

The Old Media (Mainstream Media) versus New Media (Social Media) argument became stale along time ago.  The argument that new/social media would replace or become more important than newspapers, TV, radio (noooo nothing could ever replace radio, ever) trundled on with lots of opinion and no evidence.  Examples were offered such as the photo of the aeroplane splash landing in the watery runway of the Hudson River being published within seconds on social media were never really convincing evidence of anything except the speed of connections and how viral news can be given the platform to spread.
Being brought up as a consumer and producer of MSM and an early adaptor of social media I took no particular side.  The new/social media advocates were passionate and crusading – admirable – and the MSM didn’t really care one way or another, but slowly began to adopt the tools of new media.
“New Media, Old Media – How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from Traditional Press” has just been published by Pew Research Project for Excellence in Journalism.  Evidence at last – and the evidence in a few words is “they are different”.

Each social media platform also seems to have its own personality and function. In the year studied, bloggers gravitated toward stories that elicited emotion, concerned individual or group rights or triggered ideological passion. Often these were stories that people could personalize and then share in the social forum — at times in highly partisan language. And unlike in some other types of media, the partisanship here does not lean strongly to one side or the other. Even on stories like the Tea Party protests, Sarah Palin and public support for Obama both conservative and liberal voices come through strongly.

No surprise there then.  Bloggers blog on matters they feel passionate about. Tweeters tweet on what interests them.  MSM are … well, mainstream.  Many, if not most (evidence, please), write about stuff they don't really care about. Only when they become specialist correspondents or columnists do they get a chance to write about what they care or think about.  The roll of most/many/some is to cover the story they are directed to cover.  It's not always interesting.  Social Media/Citizen media is more fun – people write about what inspires them.

Instead, social media tend to home in on stories that get much less attention in the mainstream press. And there is little evidence, at least at this point, of the traditional press then picking up on those stories in response. Across the entire year studied, just one particular story or event — the controversy over emails relating to global climate research that came to be known as "Climate-gate" — became a major item in the blogosphere and then, a week later, gained more traction in traditional media

So they have come to live side by side.  One very interesting and telling point is the one line "Half of Americans say they rely on the people around them to find out at least some of the news they need to know."  Perhaps we place a lot more trust (and probably wrongly) on "Hey, did ya hear …"

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