The Numbers Crunch: Gaza, UNESCO news floods Web

New diplomatic- and security-related stories replace news of the Schalit prisoner exchange in most-read articles and on social media.

Numbers Crunch 311 (photo credit: Mrkay Design)
Numbers Crunch 311
(photo credit: Mrkay Design)
As the storm of Israeli media activity over Gilad Schalit’s release from Hamas captivity died down this week, two other stories surfaced to take the proverbial spotlight: Violence on the Gaza border escalated, and UNESCO voted to accept the Palestinian Authority as a member. Both stories stimulated a flurry of reactions: military retaliation in the south, and reverberations on the diplomatic front.
Of the Top Ten most-read stories on in the past week, four were related to the UNESCO decision and subsequent Israeli and international reactions, and three stories focused on the south. Other stories which made it to the list related to Israeli aid sent to Turkey in the wake of a devastating earthquake which was also a hot topic on social media (see below), to US-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel’s release from Egyptian custody and to Schalit’s captivity.
Top 10 stories on last week:
1. US freezes UNESCO funds for recognizing Palestine2. Hamas official: 'Schalit's captors spoke to Gilad, laughed with him'3. J'lem sends aid as Turkey calls for pressure on Israel4. IDF responds to rocket fire, targets Gaza terror centers5. Arab League chief: 'US cutting UNESCO funding deals blow to peace talks'6. Shalom: 'Dramatic' move that will halt Gaza rockets is near7. Erekat: 'Israel should've lauded Palestinian UNESCO vote first'8. IDF aircraft strike rocket launching cell in Gaza9. Ilan Grapel: I want to thank the Israeli people10. Israel to speed up W. Bank building, after UNESCO vote
On the talkback forums, the theme was largely similar - with users writing and ‘liking’ comments mainly focused around the same two stories.
Most active threads last week:
1. Israel to speed up W. Bank building, after UNESCO vote2. UNESCO votes to grant Palestinians full membership3. Abbas: 'We have to negotiate with the Israelis peacefully'4. Netanyahu on escalation: 'There is no cease fire in South'5. J'lem sends aid as Turkey calls for pressure on Israel6. Quartet officials coming to restart peace talks
On the Gaza front, JPost readers called for a more hard-line Israeli response, in a recent JPost poll. Fourty-five percent of respondents backed “another Cast Lead” in order to root out terrorist infrastructure in the Strip. The poll was taken during a series of IAF strikes in Gaza in which several terrorists were killed, and after an Israeli man in Ashdod died of shrapnel wounded he sustained in a Grad rocket attack.
Click for more JPost poll resultsClick for more JPost poll results
In US news coverage, meanwhile, stories relating to unrest in the region took up 6% of the newshole in the past week, according to the Pew Research Center’s News Coverage Index. Most of that coverage related to the death and burial of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Middle East-related stories took 18% of the newshole the previous week. The PRC cited data that found Gaddafi was a dominant newsmaker in 2% of stories, down from 10% the previous week.
Ripples from the October 23 Turkey quake which claimed over 600 lives and left thousands displaced and wounded also registered fairly highly in US news coverage, taking some 3% of the news hole. Making the most noise online were stories of heroic rescues and survival stories. On YouTube, too, on-the-scene footage from the quake was featured on the video-sharing site’s Newsroom, including both amateur and professional clips.
JPost readers voiced strong support for Israel’s offer, and Turkey’s acceptance, of humanitarian aid. A recent quick vote with over 4,000 respondents found that some 70% of readers backed the move, for both humanitarian and diplomatic reasons.
Click for more JPost poll resultsClick for more JPost poll results
Also featured on YouTube, as in previous weeks, was gruesome footage from Libya, as well as videos from “Occupy” protests from across the US.
Among bloggers, the PRC’s New Media Index found overwhelming support for the Occupy movement, citing an opinion margin of over two to one. The topic, however, was only the third-most talked-about topic on blogs studied; planned changes at Google, including the dropping of failed social media initiative Buzz took the top spot. On Twitter, according to the PRC, Gadaffi’s death took the fourth spot, under tech-related stories and links to a human interest piece about an elderly Iowa couple who died holding hands.
On local social media, news of a small flotilla which tried to break the Gaza blockade was trending in Jerusalem, according to real-time mapping site Trendsmap. The hashtags #freedomwaves, #flotilla and #gaza took the top spots, followed by #israel, #palestine and #middleeast. In the Tel Aviv area, meanwhile, the top trending topic was #iran, in an apparent reaction to Israeli media noise in the past week on the topic of a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Lastly, some random facts and figures from the past week on the site:
●    Israeli readers spend over twice as long on the site as their US counterparts
●    The Top Five countries by traffic: US, Israel, Canada, UK, Australia
●    The number of SMSes it would take to text all JPost comments to a friend: 328,000
●    JPost talkbackers are 75% male, 25% female
From news sites to blogs, tweets to videos, The Numbers Crunch is a biweekly column which zooms out and brings you the big picture online, from Israel, the Middle East and around the world, and poll results from
The writer is the Internet desk manager at The Jerusalem Post