Workshop Keynote: Ethan Zuckerman

Ethan Zuckerman, from the  Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, is talking about "Media Attention in the Age of the Weblog: Will Blogs Make News More or Less Global? He starts with the role of amateur astroners in astronomical discovery — a role transformed by technology (the telescopes) and community (internet connected individuals).

Zuckerman zeros in on a subset of blogs that are affecting news creation. His particular interest is the poor reporting of developing world news in  traditional media. Question: will bloggers improve coverage of developing world or will the first-world bias of many bloggers lead to a lessened focus on the developing world? ["By geeks, and for geeks."]

Comparison between Japan and Nigeria : similar populations, Nigeria is 2nd largest economy in sub-Sahara Africa, but an order of magnitude difference in CNN reporting. Galtung and Ruge (1965) explored foreign news in Norwegian papers over 2.5 years, in search of what causes foreign news to be reported.

Interesting: the more a story involves personal narrative, the more likely it is to be reported.

For the first time, in 1964, we had real-time satellite news: coverage of the Olympics in Japan. This was before digital "film" …

if you can show news from anywhere in the world, why don’t we? See "MacBride Report" (Many Voices,, One World)

Constraint has moved from atoms (minutes on TV, ink/paper on newspapers) to attention.

Ethan has a script that scrapes info from Google News and transforms it to a global map that, by color, shows country "mentions". "Light coverage" means fewer news hits. He then corrects looking at population. GDP is a proxy for economic power and predicts news coverage with a good R-squared.

He then compares Google News with BBC; it results in a radically different media profile. BBC coverage correlates more closely with population than GDP.

How do blogs look at the world? Blogpulse map looks a lot like the GDP map. Side-by-side with Google News, blogs cover even fewer stories in eastern Europe, Africa, central Asia. If we look at Daypop verus Google News — these pay more attention to those ignored area of the world. Daypop has a different (more narrow) dataset than Blogpulse.

The Long Tail : 80% of the affects can be explained with 20% of the causes. Top 20% of nation’s in population (36 nations) – accounts for 82.7% of population; with GDP, it’s 92.8% of production.

In media: News Google – 75.3%; Washington Post – 74.5%; Fox News – 98.7%. Long tail with news,in general, and Daypop, in partcicular.

What bloggers read : LpkC (links per thousand circulation):

  • CSM – 134.9 (technorati), 147.28 (blogpulse)
  • Guardian – 101.5 (technorati), 122.38 (blogpulse)
  • Scotsman – 34.42 (technorati) ; 254.39 (blogpulse)
  • NYT – 62.89 (technorati) ; ? (blogpulse)

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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