My potential thesis has reared its bloggy head

Regular readers (both of you) might have noticed slow posting here lately, but really regular readers will recall that this happens at the end of every semester as I ramp up the whole term-paper-writing thing.

This semester, I’m plugging away at what will become the literature review for my thesis. It’s all about blogging-at-newspapers. I’m going to take a diffusion of innovations angle, graph an adoption curve, do some content analysis on what newspapers are blogging about, and round it all off with some qualitative interviews of some online/blog gurus at a selected few newspapers.

In addition to the dead-trees-behemoth that will count toward my M.S., I figure it won’t be too much trouble to put all my material online in some combination of a database, podcast, and wiki. By this time next year, if all goes well, it will all be finished but for the walking across the stage.
But all I need to finish by May 17th is about 20 pages reviewing the relevant literature and outlining my proposed study.

So I’m sitting at my desk, surrounded by piles of Rogers, Boczkowski, Gans, Berger and Chaffee, Philip Meyer and even Nicholas Negroponte.

The blogs-at-newspapers thing could easily shift to multimedia-at-newspapers or podcasts-at-newspapers as the year goes on, but blogs are a familiar starting point for me, and I can riff on linking behavior, authority, and credibility in the blogosphere without much drag on my brain, so I might stick with it.

If you’re into this sort of thing, check out what Jay Rosen and class came up with over at Blue Plate Special. They’ve done some interesting bits of content analysis, although I’m not sure I want to constrain myself to the top 100 papers in the country.

There’s some great case study material in Greensboro and Spokane, so I’m considering those, as well as the option of sticking with the Bay Area papers. Then again, it’s hard to know what the Bay Area online newspaper scene is going to look like after all the mergers & acquisitions shake out. I’m curious to see if the Mercury News and its Knight Ridder brethren get rolled into ANG’s InsideBayArea.com, or if they ditch the surly bonds of the KR Digital template and try something new.

There’s also the question of focus: Should I concentrate on editor/ombudsman/reader representative blogs? Sounds like fun, but those folks might be harder to get a hold of for the qualitative interview part of the project. I don’t need to worry about that this second, but I certainly am more interested in the transparency issue than Travel/Mommy/Sports/Music blogs.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled day of burying my nose in the books.

3 Replies to “My potential thesis has reared its bloggy head”

  1. Oh, but all the fun blogs are not the ombudblogs! I’m sure you won’t forget old Dan Weintraub at the Sac Bee in all this stuff. Let me know when you get your lit review finished. I wrote a proposal for a research methods class in 2003 (ancient, I tell you!) that was to survey editors and reporters about attitudes toward blogs. At that time, you could probably count the number of blogging news folks (who weren’t anonymous) on fingers and toes. Diffusion of innovation is an interesting take on the issue. I look forward to your analysis.

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