Researchers at Cornell studied the news buzz cycle, the process by which information becomes news, generates attention and fades. Using computer analysis they were looking for repeated phrases and tracked their appearances on 1.6 million mainstream media sites and blogs.
Key findings reported:
1. The biggest text-snippet surge in the study (conducted on quotes and phrases that appeared between August to October 2008) was generated by the phrase “You can put lipstick on a pig.” (phrase originally used by Barack Obama “You know you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig“, September 2008 and was perceived as an insult directed to Palin).
2. Cornell Researchers report that most news flowed from the traditional media to the blogs: The traditional news was found to lead blogs discussions by 2.5 hours on average.
3. Only 3.5 percent of story lines originated in the blogs and later made their way to traditional media.
The Corenell research paper, “Meme-tracking and the Dynamics of the News Cycle,” was written by Jon Kleinberg, Jure Leskovec, and Lars Backstrom. Update findings are presented at memetracker.org.
The research aim and method used by the Corenell researchers are indeed fascinating. But, I must raise some questions/doubts:
1. Looking at the reported list of media sites ordered by their time lag on reporting a story, I have found many non-traditional sites which might be mistaken for traditional ones. Aggregated media platforms, top media blogs (even those which belong to the traditional ones) can not be considered as traditional media.
2. Blogs might capture shorter terms and not full sentences as searched for by the researchers.
3. Twitter’s news spreading can probably change the reserach results.