PEJ New Media Index: Political Extremism (At Home and Abroad) Dominates the Blogosphere

  • June 18, 2009

Reaction to two events that put the spotlight on political extremists overwhelmed the discussion in the social media last week. One, widely covered in the U.S. media, was the attack at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. by a white supremacist. The other, barely noticed in this country, was a European Parliamentary election that seated two members of a hard-line right-wing party.

Together, these two stories generated almost 60% of the week's links on the Web tracking site Icerocket, according to the New Media Index by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The two events also produced a similar pattern of response in the social media-outrage followed by more polarizing commentary about the causes and impact of ideological extremism.

Stories about the European election generated nearly a third (30%) of the week's links, a clear indication of the international flavor of the online community. While a few American bloggers reacted, the vast majority of commentary came from British bloggers upset at the election of two members of the anti-immigrant British National Party (BNP) to represent the U.K.

The shooting at the Holocaust museum (29% of the week's links) by white supremacist and Holocaust denier James W. von Brunn was primarily of interest to American bloggers who quickly turned to the question of who deserved blame.  

Read the full report Political Extremism (At Home and Abroad) Dominates the Blogosphere on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.