Monday morning, the 9th of May, a spokesman of the former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced that his employer split up with his wife, Maria Shriver, after 25 years of common life. In the star business of the United States, it is a major event for that the actors who take part in this sad event belongs to specially mediatized environments: show business, politics and journalism. The news appeared on the web a couple of minutes after the official announcement. From that moment, it spread all over the world via Internet. Twitter played, as you can guess, a major role in that phenomenon.
Some of the tweets were just gossip without any sources, people who just express their feelings about an event:
Sorry dude. Life’s sometimes tough. And others published a message with a link to another website.
Basically, in that case people propagate information the way they would like to learn about it. A lot of tweets don’t have a link with their source, but when the source is mentioned, it means the content is considered as valuable.
For a people’s event like this one, what sort of media is considered as providing valuable news? On a sample of 194 tweets with links, writing between 9PM and 10PM of May the 11th, it means 48 hours after the official statement, only 35% of the links were redirected to a celebrity focused website or magazine. In the French magazine market it would be Star, Célébrité or People. The second biggest slice with 27% includes news magazines or newspapers with a large people part in it. For example: 20 minutes or Le Matin. 17% comes from daily national or regional newspaper, 14% from gossip websites and 7% from blogs.
A second very interesting fact is the repartition of the sources. On the 63 referenced sources, only 4 of them were of major importance with more than 10 tweets referring to them.
TMZ is a TV channel and a website specialized in Celebrity News.
The Huffington Post is a news website covering politics, media, business, entertainment and more.
Healthland Time is a branch of Time magazine specialized in health, love and family.
And about Celebrity Gossip, it speaks for itself.
Half of the people relaying the event do it through these four websites. And the other half is a huge conglomerate of 59 websites and blogs being linked by less than 5 tweets.
I do not mean to intend that TMZ is the leader in the Celebrity news business. Of course not. They just probably published an article or a video sooner during the evening. The interesting part of this chart is the diversity in the sources people believe in. Twitter shows in this case that although information might be produce by a handful of Medias in the first place, people will go on believing a very large range of sources. Twitter shows in that case the diversity of Internet. Half of the people from the sample have a different source and, in their eyes, a trustworthy source. The information is everywhere and as it is so easy to control its veracity by comparing, Internet, in my eyes, becomes everyday more trustworthy.
Or maybe not. A sharp and vicious voice in my head tells me that people just take the news as it comes. The question is asked: Does Internet make the people gullible or do the people make Internet trustworthy?