PEJ New Media Index: A Rat and a Republican Overtake the Blogosphere

  • September 17, 2009

Two dramatically different stories led the blogosphere last week-the discovery of a new kind of giant rat and a Congressman's outburst during the President's address on health care reform. They each got almost equal attention and combined to make up 39% of the links from blogs last week.

For the week of September 7-11, a giant rat species discovered in a lost volcano in Papua New Guinea generated 20% of the links from blogs according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. It follows a long line of unusual science-based stories that have gained traction in blogs.

Other offbeat scientific stories that have made the roster of top stories in the blogosphere have included a blue dye found in M&Ms (and tested on rats) that might help reduce damage caused by spine injuries, the discovery of a large meat-eating plant, a research exercise about a world-wide zombie attack and a story about British researchers who claim that some cats have learned to manipulate their owner's emotions. Something about the nature of these bizarre science discoveries not only attract interest, but seem particularly ripe for sharing with the larger community.    

The second-largest topic on blogs last week, health care and specifically the outburst by Congressman Joe Wilson, made up 19% of the week's links and reflects another dynamic in blogs, strong partisan reactions to controversial political events.

Read the full report A Rat and a Republican Overtake the Blogosphere on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.