Who has more clout in spreading the news: the New York Times, the Guardian or Wired? Such questions have been the stuff of cocktail chatter but now, thanks to the rise of Twitter and big data analytics, we have some hard evidence.
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In a new study, two University of Arizona researchers use Twitter’s emergence as a “serious newswire” to compare the reach and longevity of news stories tweeted by organizations like Reuters, NPR and the Washington Post. Over a three-week period last winter, the researchers looked at tweets containing story links and found that stories from the BBC and the New York Times were the most widely retweeted.
The study’s authors, Sudha Ram and Devi Bhattachary, also looked at metrics like articles’ half-life to determine the popularity and longevity of a news story. They found that articles from BBC, Mashable and the NYT had the longest life span, while the BBC, Mashable and Wired were most likely to publish popular articles — stories on Twitter that exceeded the average article half-life of 5.5 hours (“half-life” is based on a bitly definition that says it’s the amount of time at which a link receives half of the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak).