The Numbers Crunch: All eyes on Iran

On news media and social media alike, the Web was abuzz with talk of the Iranian nuclear program this past week.

By ELANA KIRSH
November 13, 2011 14:22
4 minute read.
The Numbers Crunch

Numbers Crunch 311. (photo credit: Mrkay Design)

The eyes of JPost readers, like the eyes of the world, were on Iran and its nuclear program this week, as the International Atomic Energy Agency released a damning report on the Islamic Republic. On mainstream news media and social media alike, both locally and abroad, the waves of the Web were abuzz with talk of Iran.

In the JPost Top Five, with the exception of two relics from last week’s news — the UNESCO story and the interception of a small flotilla — all stories related to the Iranian nuclear threat.

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JPost Top Five most-read stories:

1. US ‘absolutely’ concerned Israel will attack Iran
2. Report: ‘UK speeding up planning for potential US-led Iran attack’
3. Analysis: What may be involved in an Israeli strike on Iran
4. Israel to speed up West Bank building after UNESCO vote
5. Navy intercepts Gaza-bound boats, nobody injured

Unlike in recent weeks, there were many crossovers between the most-read stories and the most active threads on JPost forums. Reader dialogue was also ongoing on other recent current events — UNESCO’s recognition of Palestine as a member, the Palestinian statehood bid, and the flotilla interception.

Most-active threads:

1. Israel to speed up West Bank building after UNESCO vote
2. Abbas: We ‘don’t care,’ we’re going for statehood
3. US, EU criticize Israeli plans to speed West Bank building
4. US ‘absolutely’ concerned Israel will attack Iran
5. US freezes UNESCO funds for recognizing Palestine



Not surprisingly, JPost’s Iranian threat section jumped up the most-visited page list to top position in the past week.

Top 5 JPost sections:

1. Iranian threat
2. Opinion
3. Defense
4. Middle East
5. Jewish World

It didn’t take long for the release of the IAEA report to impact social media; Trendsmap showed that #iran and #nuclear were the top two hashtags in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as in Tehran.

The week before the report was released, Israeli leaders from across the spectrum came out for and against public discussion on a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In a JPost poll, 40 percent of readers said that such dialogue was appropriate, and in fact works to increase pressure on Iran. A similar percentage, however, responded that such media flurry could increase the chance of war (18%) and represent media tendencies towards sensationalism (23%).

Click for more JPost poll results

YouTube, however, didn’t quite catch up to the rest of the media this past week. Four of the five most-viewed news and political videos, according to the PRC’s New Media Index, related to the death and burial of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Likewise, the video-sharing site’s Newsroom again featured footage from ‘Occupy’ protests as the most-viewed clips.

Elsewhere in foreign media, the Middle East attracted less attention in the US last week. The PRC’s News Interest Index found that only 7% of views were about the Gaddafi story, which accounted for 4% of news coverage. The October 23 earthquake in Turkey took up 3% of US coverage, according to the PRC’s News Coverage Index from last week.

Last month, meanwhile, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press conducted an online survey of US adults to see what the public knows about the news. One of the “more difficult visual” questions on the poll asked respondents to identify Israel on a map of the Middle East. The results, published last week, found that a majority (57%) were able to correctly select Israel from a list of four countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey). Eighty percent of college graduates correctly identified Israel on the map, compared to 41% of those with no tertiary education.

Another question, which was found to be more difficult than the map item, asked respondents which of four symbols is associated with Islam. Forty-two percent of respondents correctly identified the Muslim crescent, though 34% mistakenly picked the Hindu Ohm symbol. The report suggested that “it may have reminded some people of Arabic characters.” The Star of David and the cross, the other two options in the multiple choice questions, were picked less often. Respondents with university degrees were 30 points more likely to answer the question correctly.

And for the random fact of the week, Mashable found that the cause which gets the most attention on social media is animal rights, followed by environmental issues. An infographic cited by the popular tech-site suggested that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ decision to hire a full-time social media person has been responsible for pulling together some 75,000 Twitter followers and over 1 million fans on Facebook.

From news sites to blogs, tweets to videos, The Numbers Crunch is a weekly column which zooms out and brings you the big picture online, from Israel, the Middle East and around the world, and poll results from JPost.com.

The writer is the Internet desk manager at The Jerusalem Post


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