The News Cycle in the Internet Age

September 14th, 2009 | Sources: NY Times


The news cycle, a process by which information becomes news, gains attention, and then fades from the public eye has been impacted by technology ever since Gutenberg invented the printing press.

cnnRadio and TV had dramatic effects, and to the surprise of no one, Cornell scientists have concluded the Internet has as well.

Yet even in the Internet era, the scientists found that most of the time, traditional news outlets are out first with news stories, followed approximately 2.5 hours later by blogs.

To reach these conclusions, John Kleinberg and colleagues used computerized meme-tracking software to scan 1.6 million media sites and blogs during the final 3 months of last year’s presidential campaign. In all, they scrutinized nearly 90 million articles and blog posts.

The research is “a step toward understanding why certain points of view and story lines win out, and others don’t,” Kleinberg told the New York Times.

hotairThe most widely captured phrase was “lipstick on a pig,” which many will remember was the Big O’s response to claims by Top Gun that he represented the real voice for change in the campaign.

At the time, Republicans felt the comment represented a jab at McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin. 

Only 3.5% of the story lines originated in the blogosphere, with the most memorable one being Obama’s response to a question about when life begins after conception. That’s “above my pay grade,” he said.  Blogs ran first with that story.

talkingpointsmemoThe blogs found to be quickest to identify stories that subsequently gained wide attention were Hot Air and Talking Points Memo.

But Sreenath Sreenivasan, a professor at the Columbia Journalism School said that the findings may already be outdated due to the rise of Twitter as a news recommendation and distribution network.

“Even from last fall to today, the dynamics of the news cycle are very different, because of Twitter,” Sreenivasan told the Times.


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