This paper examines Koreans’ protests against U.S. beef imports by deconstructing online dynamics of news diffusion using data comprised of widely read blog entries created by Daum blog reporters between May and June 2008. The results indicate that Korean bloggers’ political positions on U.S. beef imports were polarized, which ultimately influenced their network positions and the way news was diffused to them. Using a qualitative examination of bloggers’ profiles, we found that bloggers who formed an independent group in order to run a collective blog, and journalists who worked in smaller media organizations contributed to enhancing citizen engagement with the issues at stake. Furthermore, we observed that there was a structural change in the online network between May and June.
I highly recommend this article. It looks at the role of bloggers in one significant, and controversial, news event in South Korea (US beef imports). It is often suggested that online networks tend to form echo chambers and lead to extremes (or Balkanization as they categorise it). This study found that, firstly, the bloggers were significant in setting the agenda for the debate, but also that this polarisation did not occur and that the blogosphere may have neutralised extremes.