New Media Index: Tweeted Links Surge on U.K. Phone Hacking Scandal

By David Cohen Comment

The News Corp. News of the World phone hacking scandal marked its third consecutive week atop the list of the most tweeted news articles, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s New Media Index for the week of July 18-22.

Meanwhile, the Carmageddon freeway shutdown in California was the topic of the most news links shared by bloggers, and the most-watched news and politics video on YouTube was Sky News footage of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch being attacked with a white-foam pie during the July 19 phone hacking hearing in the British Parliament.

After dropping from 53 percent of tweeted news links during the week of July 4-8 to just 19 percent during the week of July 11-15, the phone hacking scandal that shuttered U.K. tabloid News of the World skyrocketed to 67 percent. It was followed by: a BBC survey of mobile phone coverage in the United Kingdom, at 6 percent; and three stories at 3 percent apiece — the birthday of Nelson Mandela, the arrest of coder and activist Aaron Swartz for downloading millions of academic articles, and government backing of a cull of badgers in southwest England.

The top five news links shared via blogs were bunched much more closely, with Carmageddon accounting for 19 percent, followed by: a Los Angeles Times op-ed on science and religion, at 17 percent; the debate over the nation’s debt ceiling, at 16 percent; the drug wars in Mexico, at 13 percent; and another L.A. Times op-ed, this one about the ideology of President Barack Obama, at 8 percent.

The pie attack on Murdoch was followed on the list of most-viewed news and politics videos on YouTube by: footage from Montreal of a sewer geyser lifting a car into the air after flooding; a French-language video of the French Gendarmerie stopping the wrong driver for a speeding violation during French program 66 Minutes; another Murdoch attack video, this one from Russia Today; and another Russia Today clip of a 300-acre marijuana plantation discovered by the Mexican army in San Quintin.