“I have an existential map; it has 'you are here' written all over it”
March 27, 2012 12:51 PM   Subscribe

The Media Map: Who's Reading What And Where: [Forbes] We worked with Bitly and its data on millions of Web clicks to find the most influential media outlets in the country. This map shows which news sources are read and shared at above-average levels by state. Roll over and click on the media outlets below to see where they influence readers and which stories were big hits. Updated monthly to reflect the latest trends. More about the map.
posted by Fizz (19 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Is anyone else completely unsurprised by the distribution of readership for USA Today, the Chicken McNuggets of news?
posted by Justinian at 12:57 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Onion is apparently the main source of news in Minnesota. That would explain Michele Bachmann.
posted by theodolite at 12:59 PM on March 27, 2012

I'm not really sure how I should feel about Minnesota and Wisconsin getting most of their news from The Onion.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:00 PM on March 27, 2012

I was also not surprised at CNN's readership or should I say lack. They have turned into the worst of media outlets. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I recall quite vividly that if you wanted reliable news, you would turn to CNN. It was one reason why my dad first opted for cable television in our house. The mighty have fallen.
posted by Fizz at 1:00 PM on March 27, 2012

Interesting that MSNBC was the most popular media source in North Dakota. My liberal North Dakota in-laws absolutely adore MSNBC, but I had no idea that they were indicative of a trend.
posted by jonp72 at 1:02 PM on March 27, 2012

Why did the Seattle Times appear on this list? It's not exactly a national news source. Is it because I'm hitting this site from Seattle, or does everyone see it?
posted by gurple at 1:03 PM on March 27, 2012

I'm not really sure how I should feel about Minnesota and Wisconsin getting most of their news from The Onion.

The Onion was based in Madison for a very long time since its founding, and I think still serves as the alt-news-weekly of record for a large area there.
posted by msbrauer at 1:08 PM on March 27, 2012

Also interesting would be the inverse map: click on a state and see which media outlets are read disproportionately often.
posted by twsf at 1:18 PM on March 27, 2012

Will point out that the data is just how much above average those sites are shared, not that they're being shared as "news." So, the Onion is unsurprising, and it shouldn't be said that Wisconsin just gets all its news from the Onion.

I am surprised, however, that the Washington Post is popular in Kentucky. I guess that's who's reading Krauthammer's diatribes.
posted by General Malaise at 1:28 PM on March 27, 2012

What's up with Wall Street Journal and Washington?
posted by Defenestrator at 3:07 PM on March 27, 2012

The residents of 14 states appear to live predominantly in mid-market hotels, unless there's some other place to get USA Today that I'm not aware of.
posted by Blue Meanie at 3:12 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

The prevelance of NPR in Oregon made me giggle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:16 PM on March 27, 2012

I don't mean to complain unfairly about this particular article, because it's a symptom of a much more widespread problem, but I find it mind-boggling how often news sources put together maps like this and then fail to either evaluate the significance of their results or to provide enough information for the reader to do the same.

Why on earth would anyone publish a heat map with no color scale? There's no way to quantitatively compare the results between news outlets for a given state, and even the comparison across states for a given item requires assumptions about the color scale being used. They don't even tell us how the value per item per state is normalized: is it just a total number of clicks for an item, or is it weighted by total clicks in a state or the population or some other value? If its weighted by total clicks, are links to unlisted sources counted in the total? (Sure, one could choose to follow each individual story link and try to tabulate meaningful results. But, then what's the point of showing us the map in the first place?)

I couldn't care less which news source happens to win in a particular state unless there's some reason to believe the measurement is real and not just noise. What's more, even if it *is* real, then I don't care unless the difference is qualitatively notable.

Does the California result mean that there are twenty times as many Los Angeles times links as CNN links, in a survey of tens of millions? Or, does it mean that there were eight CNN links and nine LA Times links during a slow news month with a CNN exclusive pop star interview? There's no way to know. And without that information, this is at best a silly gee-whiz art project which shouldn't be taken seriously, and at worst an active attempt to bamboozle the reader.

Finally, in the case of this specific map, relating bitly link counts to any meaningful news distribution metric is quite a stretch. Is the Onion really a more influential news source than NPR in Minnesota? That's hard to believe. But, it's not at all surprising that Onion stories get shared online more often.

By that metric, what news outlet could hope to compete with humorous pictures of kitties?

Why oh why isn't there more info in these infographics!
posted by eotvos at 4:11 PM on March 27, 2012 [9 favorites]

1. Wow, I had no idea people actually read USA Today. I've read high school newspapers that had better journalism.

2. LA Times for CA? Really? That alone should have told them their metric was biased. I'd be surprised if any significant number of people in Nor Cal ever think of the LA Times.
posted by smirkette at 4:16 PM on March 27, 2012

Yeah, like eotvos says, I wish this did more than just give you the top publication per state. Even more than that, I wish it gave some sort of breakdown for smaller publications, not just national ones, and publications besides general-interest news ones. This could have been so much more interesting.
posted by limeonaire at 4:32 PM on March 27, 2012

Minnesotan here. No, we don't get news from the Onion, though it is often more insightful than the dreck that has infiltrated some other places.
posted by look busy at 6:32 PM on March 27, 2012

The prevelance of NPR in Oregon made me giggle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:16 PM on March 27 [+] [!]

The fact that you misspelled prevalence made me giggle.
posted by notmtwain at 6:58 PM on March 27, 2012

The fact that you misspelled prevalence made me giggle.

....Well bless your heart.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

eotvos covered most of what I was going to say, but this is a stupid map.
posted by desjardins at 9:13 AM on March 28, 2012

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