Pew Pulling at Straws to Measure the Blogosphere

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism unveiled a new index yesterday that traces blogs and social networking sites. To be honest, it doesn’t say a whole lot that we don’t already know.

The New Media Index’s first report states “From the preparations to the swearing-in to the music, President Barack Obama’s inauguration was by far and away the dominant subject debated and dissected by bloggers, user news sites and other social media last week.” The index reported that close to 63 percent of links embedded in social media sites related to the inauguration. Big surprise. The report also said that commentary was very passionate and ran the “ideological gamut.” Also, not earth-shattering news and confirms what everyone already knows-people tend to be more politically feisty on blogs and social media sites.

What is interesting is that main stream media dropped its focus on the inauguration after Tuesday and concentrated on news surrounding President Obama’s policy agenda and cabinet appointees. Does this suggest that inauguration coverage provided by blogs was generally more insightful and attentive than the main stream media’s coverage? Or simply that blogs tend to chew their stories longer than the traditional press? Pew’s index doesn’t really give any indication one way or the other.

PEJ has been searching tirelessly to find a way to monitor the blogosphere, like it does for main stream media. Their solution uses Technorati and IceRocket to track and index more than 100 million blogs and social media sites. PEJ then captures the top daily linked-to stories and analyzes their content. The Project also tracks the most popular news videos on YouTube each week. In another astonishing twist, C-SPAN’s broadcast of the inauguration topped the list.

Judging from the content of this week’s index and other indexes Pew has released, I would not expect a whole lot of surprises from the New Media Index.