A number of recent major news events and breaking news stories were reported first on blogs and microblogging sites like Twitter, even before they were reported by the traditional media. However a study conducted at Cornell University finds that traditional media still remains vital in delivering the news first.
The study was conducted over a period of three months tracked 1.6 million mainstream media sites and blogs, and a total of 90 million articles in order to arrive at their conclusions.
Twitter’s speed of news propogation has led to a feeling among the public that the days of the traditional media might now be numbered, and may soon become useless.
The Cornell University study has revealed that most of the time it is old or traditional media, represented by professional journalists, that first notices and reports a story, which is then eventually filtered down and propogated via the Internet.
In fact, the study finds that the mainstream media usually reports a story 2.5 hours before it shows up on blogs, in most cases. The graph below illustrates the fact plainly.
Source: Research from Cornell University Department of CS
There are a few exceptions to the rule, of course, when a story is first reported on the net and later through the traditional media. That happens only about 3.5% of the time though, according to the findings of the study.
What actually causes the misconception, that the web is faster than the traditional media, could be the fact that news once received, spreads much faster through the Internet than it does through the traditional media.
Read the full Cornell University study (PDF 527 kB)