I may be in Europe at the moment (I write this from a hotel room in Munich, where tomorrow my colleagues and I will be participating in a symposium on methodological innovation that is organised by our colleagues at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität) – but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be another ATNIX this week. Here are the Twitter news circulation figures for Australia in week 27/2012 (2-8 July), then.
Standard background information: this analysis is based on tracking all tweets which contain links pointing to the URLs of a large selection of leading Australian news and opinion sites. For technical reasons, it does not contain ‘button’ retweets, but manual retweets (“RT @user …”) are included. Datasets for those sites which cover more than just news and opinion (abc.net.au, sbs.com.au, ninemsn.com.au) are filtered to exclude irrelevant sections of those sites (e.g. abc.net.au/tv, catchup.ninemsn.com.au). For our analysis of ‘opinion’ link sharing, we include only those sub-sections of mainstream sites which contain opinion and commentary (e.g. abc.net.au/unleashed, articles on theaustralian.com.au which include ‘/opinion’ in the URL), and compare them with dedicated opinion and commentary sites.
The ATNIX results for weeks 25 and 26/2012 are available in a previous post.
ATNIX Week 27: 2-8 July 2012
Week 27 picked up again from the slump of the previous week – we captured some 160,000 tweets containing links to the sites we’re tracking, compared to over 140,000 in week 26 and over 150,000 in week 25. Here’s how they’re distributed across the major news sites:
Generally, the picture at the top of the leaderboard has remained quite steady for another week – the SMH and the news-related sections of the ABC Website occupy the top spots, while news.com.au and The Age have swapped places from week 26 to 27. The usual parade of News Ltd. sites (The Australian, Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph) round out the top three quarters of links shared. It’s only in the last quarter of the leaderboard that we see some more considerable shuffling of positions – Sky News had a good week, and leapfrogs sites like nineMSN, Brisbane Times, the news sections of the SBS site, and the Courier-Mail.
Amongst the opinion and commentary sites, the competition is a little more lively – The Conversation is the big mover here, and nabs third place back from Crikey, and The Australian moves from 11th in week 26 to 7th place in week 27. There’s some more shuffling going on in the lower places, too, but we’re dealing with relatively small numbers here – as in previous weeks, one or two widely shared opinion pieces can have a substantial impact on a site’s placement. I should also note that we have a new entrant this week – I’ve now started to count opinion articles in the Daily Telegraph, if they contain ‘/opinion’ somewhere in the URL. However, at least these past three weeks they’re not particularly prominent in the overall mix.
Daily Patterns, Weeks 25-27/2012
So, let’s take a quick look at the patterns for the three weeks of ATNIX data which we now have:
Over the course of these weeks, we continue to see a tight battle for overall daily supremacy between the Sydney Morning Herald and the news sections of the ABC. How close this fight is, on most days, doesn’t come out in the weekly ratings, though, as the SMH does much better on weekends – on most weekdays, on the other hand, it’s an even fight. And there’s an interesting story in the minor places, too: here, The Age and news.com.au have swapped places over the last three weeks: The Age has declined, relatively steadily, and news.com.au has done well, especially in week 27.
It’s the opinion and commentary sites and sections, though, where the story of these three weeks is most interesting. In the first instance, it must be said that week 27 was boring: even the leading sites struggled to attract more than 600 link shares on any one day, and only The Age surpassed that mark by some margin on the Saturday (with widely shared stories addressing Malcolm Turnbull’s stance on same-sex marriage, and drawing similarities between Tony Abbott’s ‘Great Big New Tax’ catchcry and Nazi propaganda). And at just over 850 tweets, even that small peak is still a far cry from the spikes of well above 1100 tweets which we saw for some of the sites in weeks 25 and 26.
Given that of the three weeks of ATNIX data we now have, this last week was the most active in terms of the total number of tweets, this drop in opinion shares is even more remarkable – in total, we counted some 20,000 opinion shares in week 25, over 21,000 in week 26, and only just over 17,500 in week 27. Week 27 wasn’t a slow news week, on Twitter, but what – a slow spin week?
Week 28 may well be different from this, though: Paul Howes’s article in the Daily Telegraph, mouthing off about the Greens, was shared so widely that it propelled the DT’s normally insubstantial opinion section into third place on Sunday 8 July – and given the ALP’s demonstrated expertise in creating such non-stories and using them to deprive itself of oxygen in the news cycle, we should expect further follow-up opinion pieces to substantially boost the circulation of opinion links on Twitter in next week’s ATNIX. Unless Australian Twitter users are heartily sick of such distractions, that is – and who could blame them?