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Monday, September 27, 2010

Blogs Offer Rosier Tech Coverage than Newspapers and TV, Study Finds

Posted By on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 3:33 PM

click to enlarge Would Master Control have gotten a nice blog review?
  • Would Master Control have gotten a nice blog review?
There's an interesting study out today from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press on portrayals of the tech industry, both in conventional "mainstream media" outlets and "new media" sources such as blogs and Twitter. The study's focus is the dichotomy within MSM tech coverage between optimistic stories about the benefits new technologies bring us and negative stories about the same innovations' dangers. (The biggest MSM tech story of the year, for example, was about the perils of texting while driving.)

Perhaps the more interesting findings in the Pew report -- at least for those of us who consume news from both mainstream outlets such as newspapers or TV and the countless tech-industry blogs that have sprung up over the past few years -- has to do with the difference in coverage of tech by new and old media. Blogs and Twitter posts on the tech industry, according to the study, tend to be devoted to excited reviews of new devices and companies. And, unlike the MSM, this cheerleading isn't leavened with critical assessments of technologies' drawbacks.

Here's an excerpt from the report:

The findings suggest that in the mainstream media, particularly on front pages and general interest programs, the press reflects exuberance about gadgets and a wonder about the corporations behind them, but wariness about effects on our lives, our behavior and the sociology of the digital age.

Social media, on the other hand, suggests that people who are on the cutting edge of technology are not only more interested in discussing the topics, but more positive in general about specific advancements, like new versions of smartphones or new social networking sites.
When new media outlets do carry negative stories, the study found, they tend to be about obstacles to technological progress rather than about the actual dangers of technology. China's suppression of Internet freedom, for example, got plenty of discussion in blogs and tweets, while cyber-crime and that MSM hobbyhorse -- texting while driving -- received scant attention.

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Peter Jamison

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