Research: Tech blogs set the agenda for the traditional media

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New research confirms: Tech blogs set the agenda for the traditional media
Dr. Nirit Weiss-BlattTelecom News, 2016 March 00
 
A new research collected 1.5 million articles and posts of U.S. tech coverage over a year and found who sets the tech agenda. It also found the leading topics and their influence on public interest
 
Tech blogs initiate the tech topics to traditional media, which in turn increase the public interest, claims a new research. The research explored the leading tech blogs and traditional media websites in the U.S
 
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Dr. Nirit Weiss-Blatt (Ph.D.), who worked as a PR representative for tech companies, decided to examine who has the upper hand in "Innovation Journalism"- traditional media or tech blogs? To do so, she collected English-language tech coverage over an entire year. 347 tech keywords were
used to retrieve relevant tech stories from 50 leading websites which were divided into seven groups
 
  newspapers sites
 Television sites
 magazines sites
 websites of traditional media as a whole
 elite newsroom blogs
 independent bloggers and
 tech blogs as a whole

The sites included in the Research

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The research used the Big-Data analysis tool "MAP- Media Analysis Platform" provided by "Sysomos/ MarketWire", and approximately 2,500 queries led to 1.5 million records

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The main findings of the research are the following:  Tech coverage in the blogs caused the tech coverage in the traditional media. The results of the reversed analysis were not statistically significant, the tech coverage in traditional media did not explain the coverage in blogs. In conclusion, the research found that tech bloggers activity preceded
and is a strong predictor of the coverage by traditional tech journalists and not vice versa

Illustration of the main finding

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In addition, the researcher built matrices from tech keywords that co-occur in the same headline, thus, there is association between them. The network analysis illustrated how bundles of issues can be transferred from one communication channel to another: the way in which the tech bloggers associated different tech keywords was found significantly similar to that found in the traditional media
 
A set of interviews with some of the leading tech bloggers offered an explanation, the bloggers stated that: the intense publishing; the ability to make use of specific expertise and to dig deeper than conventional media; the opinionated and personal writing style; and focusing on early stage technology startups (in Alpha/Beta) - makes them the professional platform for tech initiatives. Another explanation suggested was that traditional media use quotes like "according to tech blog" in order to avoid risking their reputation if the story does not devel­op as expected or if it's a rumor. The bloggers are not afraid to publish rumors as long as they are disclosed as rumors
 
The research also included the examination of the public interest in tech topics. The main pattern from "Google Trends" found that the searches in the Internet & Telecom category and the Computers & Electronics category peaked due to increased coverage and that these peaks become even more evident in the news section category. Part of the media's role is to present innovations in a more accessible way to the general public. In the timelines, the research found, that the web users searched for additional information after the buzz of the tech news stories. The majority of readers do not have a vast technical knowledge, and so they turn to the experts for insight
 


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A condition of winners-take-all was found as a few topics achieved the majority of the coverage and all others got a considerably lower coverage. The research originated tables of the "Top 50" in each category, but due to lack of space, here is a summary of the "Top 6" during 2012
 
- Leading tech companies: Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung, Twitter

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- Leading tech products: Android, iPhone, iPad, iOS, Mac, Windows
 

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- Top tech topics: Apps, Smartphones, Tablets, Software, Gadgets, Social Media
 

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 Leading tech events:  CES, MWC, E3, SXSW, TechCrunch Disrupt, D10 - AllThingsD
 

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 Top tech leaders: Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt
 

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The leading companies, products and executives found in this research are still relevant today and are expected to stay dominant. An example of the above is the recent media discussion about the "Frightful 5" and the "end of tech startups
 
The tech coverage mainly dealt with software/hardware products being launched. However, other potentially important tech topics such as censorship, privacy issues or negative stories of failures as well as layoffs were not noticeable in the timelines. A possible explanation is that big tech companies spend billions of dollars on marketing campaigns

Dr. Weiss-Blatt: The research revealed that the tech bloggers filter the tech issues and their interrelationships and
set the traditional media agenda, which in turn transfers these topics to the general public. Consequently, we can consider tech bloggers as early recognizers or opinion leaders of technological innovations. Tech companies and their PR firms, when looking how to best promote their tech agenda, may benefit from the main conclusion of this research. The tech bloggers were found to be the trendsetters of the tech coverage and thus, they are recommended as an efficient channel for the flow of innovative information in the tech field
 
The research was supervised by Prof. Sheizaf Rafaeli from the Center for Internet Research and the Graduate School of Management and Prof. Gabriel Weimann from the Department of Communication, at the University of Haifa, Israel. Some of the findings published in a new book "The Power of Information Networks: New Directions for Agenda Setting" (Taylor & Francis Group) edited by Prof. emeritus Maxwell McCombs from the University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Lei Guo from Boston University
        
Nirit Weiss Blatt's Blog - HERE

 
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