After last week’s debacle with Barack Obama’s MySpace page, lots of bloggers have been discussing whether or not political campaigns should take control over MySpace profiles and other voter-created websites and online groups. It’s no surprise that bloggers have been covering this issue, but I wondered to what degree the story had reached mainstream media (MSM) outlets.

I did a quick Google search for articles about Barack Obama from May 2 to May 4. I limited my search to print media outlets (newspapers and magazines) and major online news sources (such as or I did not include blogs, international sources, or TV/radio outlets in my search. To further narrow my search, I only considered articles that were directly about Barack Obama–his name was either in the headline, or he was a substantial part of the story. I did not include political overviews or articles where he was mentioned in brief.

I found 51 articles over the three days, 10 of which were about Barack’s MySpace page. I marked particularly negative articles with an asterisk.

Political blogging growing like a vine*
Barack Obama Could Lose Some ‘Friends’ In MySpace Debacle*
This Should Make Bloggers Happy *
Learn from Obama: Hire a Professional *
Campaign takes control of ‘official’ MySpace site
Between Barack and MySpace
I’m Sorry, Barack, We’re Through*
Obama Campaign Asks: Is it MySpace or Yours?
Obama Takes MySpace Page from Backer
Obama to MySpace: That’s MyPage

These 10 articles were spread over 8 different publications and make up 20% of Barack-specific coverage during May 2-4. I was pretty surprised that such a variety of MSM outlets, some of them very significant publications, picked up on this story. I was also surprised that MSM outlets were so critical of Barack’s efforts at regaining control over his MySpace page. I expected that since most newspapers and magazines maintain top-down strategies in most of their media coverage, they would be supportive of the transition to the “official”, rather than voter-controlled strategy.

To see the articles I included in my survey, please take a look at my datasheet.

Our media monitoring platform, ImpactWatch, would be perfect for tracking an issue such as this one. In order to complete this analysis, I had to manually search through Google results. If I had used ImpactWatch, this search would have been automated, allowing me to pre-determine which news sources I would be tracking. In addition, ImpactWatch would have given me a mechanism for sorting, graphing, and ranking the results according to subject, source, author, and bias (positive, negative, neutral).

For more information about ImpactWatch , check out the website and our current free demo, which tracks coverage of the PS3 and Nintendo Wii.