PEJ New Media Index: In the Blogosphere, the Walkman and the Pitchman Supplant Michael Jackson

  • July 09, 2009

After an initial wave of nostalgia over the death of Michael Jackson, social media moved on to other matters last week. Unlike the traditional press, which remained fixated on the life and death of the King of Pop, that story all but vanished from the links in both blog and twitter posts. 

From June 29-July 3, discussion of Jackson accounted for a mere 2% of the links on blogs and other social media, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's New Media Index.  This represents a sharp drop-off from the previous week, which, although it included just the first two days of coverage after Jackson's June 25 death, garnered 27% of the links.

Instead, online commentators tracked by the social monitoring services Icerocket and Technorati focused on two different post-mortems last week-one for a bygone technology and the other for another recently deceased celebrity, albeit one lacking Jackson's star power and status.

The top story in social media last week-accounting for 33% of all links-was a report in BBC Magazine about a 13-year-old British boy who was given an original Sony Walkman. He was asked to use the Walkman for a week to help mark the 30th anniversary of that early foray into portable music technology.

Next, at 14% of the links, were tributes to TV infomercial star Billy Mays who died at age 50 (ironically, the same age as Jackson) on June 28. Initially his sudden death was thought to be caused by an injury from a rough plane landing, but later the cause was revealed to be heart disease.

Read the full report In the Blogosphere, the Walkman and the Pitchman Supplant Michael Jackson on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.