Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MMfA Traffic Versus Big Government Traffic: Who Keeps An Open Mind?

I had discovered an interesting statistic for this site, which most likely would hold true for pretty much any other site out there.  The Midnight Review gets a lot of traffic from a lot of different sources, but I wanted to compare two particular sources of visitors - Media Matters for America (MMfA) and Andrew Breitbart's Big Government.

I wanted to focus on these two sites for one reason - they seem to be internet rivals (Big Government more so then MMfA).  While MMfA fact checks conservative media, Big Government just smears, making unlimited biased and wrong comments.  I spend some time commenting on both sites and I get plenty of referrals from both.  I also write many articles that reference the two sites.  I would have to say that the similarities stop there.

After conducting some research into my own site, I had discovered that visitors from Media Matters, on average, spend almost twelve times as long on this site then visitors from Big Government and visit almost twice as many pages.

In the past month, visitors from MMfA spend an average of 4:37 on this site, viewing 1.97 pages, while visitors from Big Government spend an average of 0:35 on this site, viewing 1.32 pages.  

What does that mean exactly?

Essentially, MMfA traffic seem more willingly to accept new information.  Big Government traffic on the other hand prefers to stay within their own social network.

According to William H. Flanigan and Nancy H. Zingale in their book "Political Behavior of the American Electorate," in a simplified view of the transmission of political information, information is transmitted from the "opinion elites," or the leaders in society such as politicians, organizational leaders, or news commentators, to "opinion leaders," which would be the minority of the public.  The "opinion leaders" then spread the word to the remainder of the public - like one big game of telephone.  Flanigan and Zingale's book was written before the prevalence of the internet, and they briefly touch up on the internet as a player in the delivery of information.
The Internet as a news source is a recent development with interesting characteristics.  Providing almost unlimited access to information, it requires the consumer actively to seek it out, more than newspapers and magazines that arrive on the doorstep or in the mail.  It also offers opportunities to "talk back" or comment on the news and to be put in touch with other like-minded people.  There are few obvious "gatekeepers" on the Internet and the issues of the reliability and credibility of information are largely left to the user to determine.  The opportunities for "whispering campaigns" of rumor and misinformation are awesome.
The right-wing has conditioned their followers to avoid all media outside their control, and this is evident in Breitbart's sites.  Anything beyond the right-wing network of media is considered liberal and biased, and therefore should be avoided, leaving the conservative "opinion elites" in charge of the transmission of information.
Most members of the public probably do receive information from the mass media in the context of their social groups.  Thus, they filter the information and interpretations of the media through not only their own perceptions, experiences, and existing attitudes but also those of people around them.  Only when the media have the attention of most members of the audience and a virtual monopoly over the kinds of information received by a public that few existing attitudes about the subject can the media produce anything like a uniform change in public attitudes.
This is exactly what Big Government's readers are doing.  They come to this site, look at the content without reading, forming a snap judgement, and then leave, while MMfA readers read the content of the Midnight Review articles before continuing.

This is very interesting, and I suggest any blog left of the fringe check their stats.  More likely then not, their findings will mirror my own...


  1. ...While MMfA fact checks conservative media, Big Government just smears...

    I was enjoying your article until I hit this ridiculous line. Speaks volumes about you...

  2. I have read numerous articles on both websites. I fail to see the presentation of facts in such stories like "Fistgate," or pretty much anything Jim Hoft wrote - like that other doozy where he claimed the logo for some American ballistic missile department displayed a Muslim crescent moon, proving that the administration was moving towards Shariah law...

    Turns out the logo was designed by some outside firm during the Bush administration. Hoft printed a retraction, about the logo, but not about his assertion that America is becoming some sort of Islamic state...

    Media Matters on the other hand fact checks. Sure they can get a little condescending towards their conservative targets, but all they post is actual images, videos, or links...

    Here is an interesting lecture by UVA psychologist Johnathan Haidt, where he discusses the moral outlooks of liberals and conservatives.

    I got this off a comment in another blog, but I find it to apply to my article as well... very interesting.


Please share your thoughts and experiences in relation to this post. Remember to be respectful in your posting. Comments that that are deemed inappropriate will be deleted.