The 'New Media, Old Media' report by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) suggests that on blogs 53 per cent of lead stories in a given week will be shared and discussed for no longer than three days. The same can be said for 72 per cent of lead stories shared via Twitter; 52 per cent drop off the social network's agenda within 24 hours, the research suggests.
The study gathered a year's worth of data on the top news stories discussed and linked to on blogs and social media sites, including seven months' worth of tweets and a year of the most viewed news videos on YouTube. Its findings suggest a stark difference between the 'news agenda' in the traditional media and that embraced by social media sites and their users.
Unsurprisingly the study suggests that more technology stories are shared and discussed on Twitter (43 per cent of stories via Twitter) than on blogs, YouTube and the 'traditional press'. Politics and government and non-US, foreign news events were most shared on YouTube (47 per cent) and then blogs (29 per cent); while the traditional press dedicated a fairly even amount of coverage to politics (15 per cent), health and medicine (11 per cent) and the economy (10 per cent).
"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 (…) 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 'Climategate' - became a major item in the blogosphere and then, a week later, gained more traction in traditional media," says the study.
But there are still ties between social media and mainstream, traditional news outlets, the survey suggests. Blogs are still heavily reliant on the traditional press for their information with more than 99 per cent of stories linked to by the blogs studied coming from so-called legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. Accounting for 80 per cent of these links alone were the BBC (23 per cent), CNN (21 per cent), New York Times (20 per cent) and Washington Post (16 per cent).
Twitter is less tied to traditional media with 50 per cent of links studied going to those news organisations and 40 per cent to web-only news sites, such as Mashable.
The full findings of the survey, which look at the different news topics of links and videos shared on blogs, Twitter and YouTube, are available at Journalism.org.
"As social media sites and tools evolve, so too will their impact on news information and citizens’ relationship to the news. The interplay among new and traditional media will also almost certainly evolve. Even now, new partnerships and content sharing are being developed across platforms and outlets. The Project will continue to follow and study these emerging tools and trends for producing, consuming and sharing news information in our society," says the (PEJ) in its conclusion to the survey.