Report

PEJ New Media Index: Bloggers Outraged at a Horrific Assault

  • November 05, 2009

Reports that as many as 20 people may have been involved in or observed a gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside a high school homecoming dance in Richmond, California, touched a nerve in the blogosphere last week, provoking a torrent of outrage and concern.

For the week of October 26-30, more than a quarter (26%) of the links to news-related stories from blogs were about the shocking case, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Various media outlets have reported that the incident may have lasted for as long as two hours and at least seven suspects have been arrested, most of them teenagers.

Many online commentators blamed the bystanders to the crime as much as those who actively participated. And for many the incident raised larger questions about American society and culture. The case generated much more attention online than it did in the mainstream press, where it filled only 1% of last week's newshole in PEJ's News Coverage Index.

The second-largest story in the blogosphere was the war in Afghanistan, with 16% of the week's links. Most of that attention was generated by reports of the resignation of Foreign Service officer Matthew Hoh, who left in protest of the U.S. presence there. As President Obama continues to consider military options, many bloggers agreed with Hoh that it was time to end the American combat role there.

This is the third time this year that Afghanistan has been among the top two stories in the New Media Index. Each time, the dominant reaction in the blogosphere has been different, suggesting that U.S. involvement in the war fuels strong passion on both sides of the divide. 

Read the full report Bloggers Outraged at a Horrific Assault on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.