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July 15th, 2009

Story Flow

A study out of Cornell purports to show that most stories originate in the mainstream media and then are followed approximately 2.5 hours later by the same story being discussed by blog writers, with a handful of highly influential blogs – the modern day gatekeepers – leading the curve.

David Weir points out some obvious problems with the study’s methodology, including this little nugget:

That bloggers are 2.5 hours late, compared to the mainstream, may in fact show which group is more skeptical about the PR crap that flows out of the candidates’ camps. The study I’d like to see would compare which group of reporters took this stuff as gospel, and which took the time to do more work and call BS by its right name. The latter group would probably need, by my calculation, about 2.5 hours to do so.

I’m not only interested in the flow of the story but also the tracking of the sentiment around each wave that resulted from the initial news story. Also worth tracking would be what was added to the story – either in form of additional information or opinion – by each writer. Who fleshed out one specific detail because of their expertise in a particular industry? Who pointed out that someone quoted in the story is a lobbyist? Does the length of time that passes show that blog reactions tend to shift from emotional to factual?

The impact of a mainstream media story is no longer confined to circulation, impressions or any of the other traditional metrics – though they certainly still apply. But knowing how it’s flowing through the rest of the online media world is just as (possibly even more) important for all the above reasons.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

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