PEJ New Media Index: Tea Parties and Pirates Fuel the Blogosophere Commentary

  • April 24, 2009

Unlike many previous weeks, the two stories generating the most interest in the blogosphere were among those that also received significant attention in the traditional press. Both the pirate hostage saga and the Tea Parties spurred passionate and visceral online commentary, with one story producing unity and the other generating sharp discord.   

Fully 19% of the links by blogs and social media sites from April 13-17 focused on the dramatic end to the standoff between the Somali pirates and American Navy, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. With the successful rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, most bloggers expressed gratitude and pride in the performance of the U.S. military.

Another 16% of the links centered on the April 15 protests around the country, generally aimed at President Obama's economic policies and modeled after the Boston Tea Party of 1773. The event sparked enormous debate online with some bitter disagreement over the meaning and motives behind the rallies.

The third largest story (at 7%) was about efforts by the U.S. government to defend against terrorist attacks. Most of the debate revolved around an April 15 New York Times report that claimed the National Security Agency went beyond legal limits imposed by Congress in intercepting e-mails and phone calls of U.S. citizens.

Read the full report Tea Parties and Pirates Fuel the Blogosophere Commentary on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.