12 March 2008

More Americans Get Their News ...

from political blogs than ever before!

At least, that's how I read this Harris Interactive press release.

Ellen Wulfhorst, from Reuters, read the same press release and her report (edited by Eric Beech, which separates it from blogging) is a classic work of press release stenography. The credibility of the journalistic account is actually less than the Harris Interactive press release, even though it's largely a work of stenography, because of what Wulfhorst (or her editor) added and omitted from the press release.

There are really only two differences between her report and the press release. Wulfhorst adds, "Unlike traditional, mainstream media, blogs often adopt a specific point of view." You won't find that in the Harris press release. This is entirely Wulfhorst's reported opinion. There are some interesting comparisons of blogs and "mainstream media" in the press release, but nothing to support "unlike us, they adopt a POV." (Pro-jo's believe in their view from nowhere.)

The second difference is Wulfhorst omits most of the methodology from the press release required to "conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls" boiling it down to "The poll was conducted online from January 15 to January 22 among 2,302 adults. Harris said it does not calculate or provide a margin of error because it finds such figures can be misleading." This makes the poll sound more credible than it actually is and Wulfhorst's account less credible after reading the actual methodology.

Here's my recommended lede as Wulfhorst's editor, "Political blog readership rose from 0% to 22% over the same decade that newspaper readership declined below 50%."

I'd also recommend that Reuters link to the poll. It's much more web-savvy than the non-linking, "regurgitate online what you print" press.

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