PEJ New Media Index: Email and Nobel Dominate the Blogs

Oct 15, 2009

It was a tale of two very different stories leading the blogosphere last week. One, an Internet security breach with global implications, revealed the communal nature of the social media that allows users to alert and even try to protect one another. The other, President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, highlighted the blogosphere's proclivity for commentary and opinion that runs the gamut from racial to philosophical.

On Monday, October 5, BBC News reported that thousands of email accounts had been compromised as their passwords had been posted online. In a scheme commonly referred to as "phishing," Internet scammers persuaded unsuspecting victims to pass along their private email account information, which was then posted on a public Web site. By Tuesday, the BBC reported the scam had compromised at least 30,000 email addresses around the world.

The story galvanized bloggers around an event that the mainstream press had all but ignored. For the week (October 5-9), fully 45% of the links to news-related stories from blogs were about that subject, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, one of the biggest stories of the year in social media. That number, indeed, was the fifth-largest weekly total for any particular story this year, and the highest for any subject since the political protests in Iran made up 63% of the top blog links the week June 15-19.

Most of the bloggers who linked to reports about the security violation felt it was their duty to share the information as a warning to their readers, and a number used the opportunity to give advice about online security.

On Friday, however, the focus in the blogosphere shifted abruptly following the news early in the morning in the United States that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. For the week, the Nobel story was the fourth largest with 8% of the links. But that number understates the burst of attention to the subject. On Friday morning, just hours after the announcement was made, 37% of the links from blogs were about that subject. And by Friday afternoon, 81% of the links to the top news stories were about the prize.

Read the full report Email and Nobel Dominate the Blogs on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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