PEJ New Media Index: Iraq and a Rug Galvanize the Blogosphere

Sep 16, 2010

While bloggers sometimes focus on the same broad subject matter as the mainstream media, as last week illustrated, they can choose to explore very different aspects of those themes.

For the week of September 6-10, one-quarter (25%) of the news links on blogs were about the war in Iraq, making it the No. 1 story according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

One week earlier, when the mainstream media focused on Iraq, and primarily on President Obama declaring an end to the combat role, the social media largely ignored the subject. But bloggers got interested later when a Washington Post column revived a debate over the long-terms costs of the war.

News about the Obama White House was the No. 2 story on blogs (22%) and the No. 5 story in the mainstream media. And while a good chunk of the mainstream coverage focused on someone possibly leaving the administration--chief of staff Rahm Emanuel-the bloggers opted to talk about something that had just arrived--the new rug prominently displayed in the Oval Office.

The social media conversation about Iraq followed a column in the September 5 Washington Post concluding that the true cost of the war-factoring in the costs of treating veterans, increases in the cost of oil and the impact on the national debt-is far greater than previously thought. Written by Joseph E. Stiglitz, the chairman of President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, and Linda J. Bilmes, a senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard University, the piece expands on an estimate the two made in 2008 when they originally came up with the $3 trillion number-although they offered no specific new price tag.

Read the full report, Iraq and a Rug Galvanize the Blogosphere on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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