PEJ New Media Index: The Stimulus Debate and Daschle Debacle Dominate the Blogosphere

  • February 13, 2009

Blogs and social media largely agreed with the more traditional press about the two dominant topics in last week's news - President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package and the taxing problems with some of his Cabinet nominees. But the new media turned next to an event outside the U.S., which, if somewhat less weighty, demonstrated the more global reach of Internet news.  

Bloggers, talk show hosts and other media pundits all saw high stakes in the battle over the stimulus bill. But the new media, rather than grading the political maneuverings of the new President, focused more on the economic value of elements in the plan itself.  As for the Cabinet problems, bloggers overwhelmingly focused on Tom Daschle's withdrawal as nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services after he was tripped up by tax problems. Together these stories accounted for 63% of the linked-to stories last week.

Beyond the two Washington stories, the agenda of new media users differed noticeably from traditional media.

The third story (at 8% of the links) in new media was the largest snowstorm to pummel Southeast England in 18 years. The fourth (7%) revolved around a Los Angeles Times report that Obama had preserved the controversial tactic of rendition used in investigating alleged terrorists. The fifth story (5%) dealt with a questionable method, used at Johns Hopkins Medical Center to remove a donor's kidney.

These three stories received hardly any attention in the traditional American press last week, which focused on the Super Bowl and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the third, fourth and fifth-biggest stories.

These are some of the findings of the third edition of a new feature by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Read the full report The Stimulus Debate and Daschle Debacle Dominate the Blogosphere on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.