Bloggergate: How the CBS National Guard Story Affected Coverage of Webloggers J. Richard Stevens, Ph.D. International Symposium on Online Journalism April 9, 2005
Walter Lippmann, 1920 • “The news of the day as it reaches the newspaper office is an incredible medley of fact, propaganda, rumor suspicion, clues, hopes, and fears, and the task of selecting and ordering that news is one of the truly sacred and priestly offices in a democracy.”
Where do Weblogs fit in? • Are they amateur participants in the “priestly duties” of journalism? • Do they empower the critical debates that form our democracy or do they drown them out in the noise of spectacle? • CBS Bush National Guard Story
Purpose • How does the “MSM” respond to “blogswarms”? • Analyze short-term impact of the blogswarm surrounding the CBS story on New York Times reportage of blogs.
Research Questions • What effect did the CBS guard story controversy have on the frequency of New York Times stories mentioning Weblogging and bloggers? • Did the CBS controversy lead the New York Times to increase the number of stories about specific blogs or bloggers? • Were New York Times stories more or less likely to define blogs or blogging terminology in stories after the controversy than before the controversy?
Research Questions • Did the CBS controversy lead the New York Times to increase their use of blogs as sources in their stories? • Did the CBS controversy cause the New York Times to publish more blog addresses in their stories? • Did the CBS controversy cause the New York Times to frame Weblogs as in conflict with traditional journalism?
Method • Collected NYTimes stories containing blog terminology from June 6, 2004 to December 1, 2004. • Terms = “blog,” “Weblog,” “Web log” and “blogger” • 168 stories • Content Analysis - counting attributes and frames • Intercoder reliability= .9617
Effect of blogswarm on frequency of blog stories • 54% increase in the number of stories mentioning blog terminology • 45% increase in the stories profiling particular blogs • 45% increase in the citation of blogs a source in a story • 35% increase in the number of stories containing blog URLs • 50% increase in the number of stories containing the conflict frame.
Thoughts and Conclusions • Relationship developing more gradually • Blogs not as powerful as they like to claim • Benchmarks for other events