PEJ New Media Index: The Fort Hood Tragedy Highlights the Reporting Role of Social Media

Nov 12, 2009

The November 5 shootings at the Fort Hood Army post dominated much of the online community last week, registering as the No. 1 story in both the blogosphere and on Twitter, despite occurring late in the week. On YouTube, however, international events earlier in the week remained at the top.

The attack that left 13 dead and 30 wounded, allegedly perpetrated by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, generated condolences and commentary from the online community. And as was the case in mainstream media last week, some of that conversation focused on the suspect's Muslim religion and possible motives for the attack.

But perhaps more significantly, the Fort Hood rampage highlighted the emerging role of social media-particularly Twitter-in producing instantaneous accounts of breaking news events. And indeed the accuracy and value of that reporting became a topic for discussion.

From November 2-6, 20% of the links to news-related stories from blogs were about Fort Hood according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. On Twitter last week, the shootings were also the top subject, receiving 38% of the news links for the week, according to the tracking site Tweetmeme.

But those numbers don't fully reflect the intense interest in the story. The shooting only encompassed the last day of the week studied (occurring mid-day Thursday it was reflected in Friday's coverage). On that day, Friday, November 6, fully 67% of the blog links and 88% of the links on Twitter were about the Fort Hood rampage.

Read the full report The Fort Hood Tragedy Highlights the Reporting Role of Social Media on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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