PEJ New Media Index: Health Care Reform and Fort Hood Dominate the Blogs

  • November 19, 2009

For the second week in a row, the fallout from the November 5 Fort Hood shooting was a major topic in the blogosphere. But it had to compete with the health care bill in the House, which triggered opposition from conservative commentators and mixed feelings from liberal bloggers upset about an amendment that prohibited federal funds for abortions.

For the week of November 9-13, 22% of the links in blogs and social media were to news-related stories about health care reform according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. This marks only the second time since the NMI began in January 2009 that the health care debate was the No. 1 topic in the blogosphere and social media. The first occurred during the week of August 10-14 (23% of the links) when supporters and opponents of President Obama's health care goals traded accusations of deception and dishonesty.

Drawing almost as much attention, 20% of the links, was the Fort Hood attack. Attention here focused on the accused shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. The tone and tenor of the online conversation in many ways mirrored that of talk radio and cable television last week. In both the new media and the talk media in mainstream press, the case had become something of a cultural and ideological wedge issue. Many bloggers were eager to proclaim the attack as part of an Islamic Jihad against the U.S. and accused those less willing to do so of dangerously downplaying terrorism.

Read the full report Health Care Reform and Fort Hood Dominate the Blogs on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.