PEJ New Media Index: The Mosque Debate Continues to Galvanize the Blogosphere

PEJ New Media Index: The Mosque Debate Continues to Galvanize the Blogosphere

To a degree not seen in the mainstream press, the controversy over the lower Manhattan mosque has touched a raw nerve in the social media. Indeed, August 23-27 marked the third straight week that the intersection of politics, religion, terrorism, and 9/11 memories has made the issue one of the top subjects in the blogosphere.

For the week of August 23-27, almost a quarter (23%) of the news links on blogs were about the mosque, making it the No. 1 subject, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That marks the most attention to the topic since the mosque debate emerged among bloggers in early August.

In each of those three weeks, the debate narrative has been somewhat different. The first week was dominated by comments from opponents of building the mosque a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site. The next week, the other side weighed in as mosque supporters led the conversation. And last week, bloggers on both sides of the issue took part in a discussion that was as much about the motives of those having the argument as the mosque itself. Many supporters of the mosque claimed that opponents were motivated by politics or hatred of Islam, while other bloggers suggested that the charges of racism against Muslims were unfair.

The trajectory of the subject in the blogosphere reflects a significantly higher level of attention than in the mainstream press. While the controversy has generated major attention among bloggers for three weeks, the percentage of newshole devoted to the same topic has decreased each week in the traditional press according to PEJ's News Coverage Index.

During the first week the controversy erupted as part of the national discourse (August 9-15), the topic filled only 2% of the mainstream press' newshole. That same week in blogs, however, it was the No. 2 subject, at 18% of the week's links. The next week, August 16-22, the story jumped to the top of both the agenda of the mainstream press (15% of the newshole) and blogs (14% of the links) as it seemed to consume a large amount of the public discussion that week.

Read the full report, The Mosque Debate Continues to Galvanize the Blogosphere on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.