The growing popularity of the Internet, in general, and blogs and social media, in particular, has resulted in new sources from which people now collect their news.
Apart from referring to traditional news sources such as newspapers and television, people are now increasingly relying on blogs and social networks to receive news.
In fact, news is fast becoming a shared social experience. However, the type of news that is popular on these different sources varies widely.
The Pew Research Center has carried out a study on the top news stories carried by different sources and analysed the data collected. The study was carried out between 19 January 2009 and 15 January 2010 on blogs and YouTube and from 15 June 2009 to 15 January 2010 on Twitter.
The study not only found that the lead stories on social media channels varied widely from traditional news media, but it also varied substantially from one channel to another.
It was found that during the course of the study the top story on blogs, YouTube and Twitter coincided only once, during the Iranian Presidential elections held between June 15 2009, to June 19 2009.
Bloggers, in general, were found to be more interested in emotional stories or issues that related to individual or group rights or similar ideologies. Stories that could be personalised and shared attracted a lot of attention. Political news, however, tended to be both pro-liberal as well as pro-conservative.
On Twitter, there was a very different tendency – stories concerning technology, in general, and Twitter, in particular, gained more prominence. However, even here, the Iran elections were the most popular lead story and topped the charts for 7 weeks in a row.
In contrast, on YouTube, the news is usually shared through videos and often does not even contain any added comments. There is also a tendency to pay more attention to international news.
One common factor among all the social platforms studied, was that the stories did not stay on top of the charts for long.
Also it was not uncommon to find that the news stories on all these sources, differred considerably from the top stories on the traditional news channels.
Blogs are more likely to borrow information from the traditional media, but the reverse trend rarely occurs. Bloggers might face a tough time once their main sources, such as The New York Times and The Times go behind pay walls. It has already been announced that the New York Times will start charging for the use of some of their news content from January 2011.