I’m amused by (and grateful for) the virtual back slaps we got for this quickie name-check in the Times today, but I don’t think it’s saying what it seems to be saying.

For the most part, the traditional news outlets lead and the blogs follow, typically by 2.5 hours, according to a new computer analysis of news articles and commentary on the Web during the last three months of the 2008 presidential campaign…

The researchers’ data points to an evolving model of news media. While most news flowed from the traditional media to the blogs, the study found that 3.5 percent of story lines originated in the blogs and later made their way to traditional media. For example, when Mr. Obama said that the question of when life begins after conception was “above my pay grade,” the remark was first reported extensively in blogs.

And though the blogosphere as a whole lags behind, a relative handful of blog sites are the quickest to pick up on things that later gain wide attention on the Web, led by Hot Air and Talking Points Memo.

Are we really the quickest? Anecdotally, it seems that the boss beats us to stuff all the time, an advantage compounded by the fact that Ed and I often have posts queued up and are forced to delay new material out of respect for the other guy. Rather, I think this is more of a raw traffic metric: Both HA and TPM are big-traffic blogs, so when they finally get to a story, they have a bit more reach in pushing it out through the political blogosphere than anyone else. To put it another way, when would a heavily trafficked blog not “lead” the coverage a story gets on the political Web?

Exit question: Does “leading” the coverage mean we can raise a cool mil in venture capital like TPM? Sigh.

Tags: Barack Obama