The Politics of Sourcing: A Study of Journalistic Practices in the Blogosphere

Gina K Walejko, Thomas Ksiazek

Digital media lowers barriers to entry and has the ability to renegotiate traditional news-making power structures. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the people that use tools like blogs actually challenge those frameworks. Offline reporters predominantly use government officials as sources while online journalists and newspaper institutions typically cite their own pages and posts. In order to understand whether or not journalistic norms are challenged in the blogosphere, we look at the sourcing practices of a diverse group of 40 bloggers. Specifically, we sample 400 blogposts that discussed global warming between 2004 and May of 2007. Operationalizing hyperlinks as sources, we then code the 3264 hyperlinks in these posts. Results indicate that government sources are linked to the least. Instead, bloggers tend to link to the online versions of traditional news media as well as to other blogs. However, we find that bloggers also link to miscellaneous and civic sources such as academics and non-profit organizations about one-quarter of the time, somewhat challenging the dominance of government and traditional media. We conclude that blogging on non-traditional topics may subvert who gets heard in an online world, but further research is needed on this topic.

Subjects: 11. Knowledge Representation; 6. Computer-Human Interaction

Submitted: Feb 14, 2008


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