PEJ New Media Index: The Oil Saga Spills into Social Media

  • June 28, 2010

Eight weeks after the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico triggered one of the largest environmental catastrophes in the country's history, attention to the subject hit unprecedented levels in social media last week.

While the disaster has consistently garnered major coverage in the American mainstream press over the past two months, it had not been a major subject of interest in blogs or on Twitter.

But from June 14-18, 22% of the news links on blogs and 14% on Twitter were about the oil crisis according to New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism—the highest levels for the story in both platforms.

Why did social media interest in the topic spike dramatically last week? It's not entirely clear, but it was a week in which the oil story clearly became more political and Washington-centric. President Obama delivered an Oval Office speech, BP officials met with Obama, and BP boss Tony Hayward faced a tough grilling on Capitol Hill.

Read the full report, The Oil Saga Spills into Social Media on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.