New Media buzzes with gay-rights chatter

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

Gay-rights topped blog reports in the first week of March, with 16 percent of the links in the blogosphere taking surfers to stories and commentary on LGBT subjects, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Bloggers made gay rights a No. 1 topic in the first week of February as well, and gay rights has finished six times as a top five blog topic since January 2009, when PRC created its new media index. The weekly survey captures leading reports on blogs and social media to compare with reports in the mainstream press.

The president’s call to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy banning gays from serving openly in the Armed Forces, fueled gay-themed blog reports in early March and early February. The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples in Washington, D.C., also captured the attention of writers in the b’sphere in early March, as did a protest at a Catholic Mass in the Netherlands.

No. 2 in blog topics was the earthquake in Chile, followed by the narrowly focused shutdown of two British digital radio stations at No. 3, U.S. health care reform at No. 4, and a profile of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel at No. 5.

Meanwhile, in the mainstream media that week, the No. 1 story was health care reform, followed by reports on the world economic crisis, the Chile earthquake, the upcoming mid-term elections and congressional scandal.

The percentage of reports on health care found in mainstream media outlets – Washington Post, The New York Times, etc. – was just slightly higher than the percentage of blog reports on gay rights.

In its monitoring of tweets on Twitter, the PRC reported that Google storylines dominated the first week of March.

As for clicks on YouTube, the leading Web video site, four out of five videos viewed were about the Feb. 24 drowning of whale trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida.