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Internet talks about 'Occupy Wall Street,' media listens

First proposed by anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters earlier this year, the Occupy Wall Street movement started gaining notable Internet "buzz" on Sept. 10, NM Incite reports. Much to the consternation of many following the movement, however, it took mainstream media almost a month to start paying attention. When Web traffic suddenly shot up on Thursday, Oct. 6, the world couldn't help but notice.

That's the day when police arrested a mass of protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, and videos of officers pepper-spraying citizens went viral. Not long after, the media followed suit. These are the findings of Web analytics company NM Incite and Think Progress, a progressive ideas and policies blog.

Tracking "Occupy Wall Street" in blogs, boards, groups, videos and images, NM Incite registered a drastic spike on Oct. 6, with 13,133 messages across Internet forums on that day. As the chart below reveals, a comparable spike occurred on the following Monday, Oct. 10, accompanying news that GOP candidate Buddy Roemer and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream stated support for the movement. 

Correlating in part economic policymakers' failure to address the economy with the news media's failure to cover the unemployment crisis, Think Progress observed how cable news coverage of the national debt at the end of July towered over any stories about jobs. Tracking CNN, MSNBC and Fox, Think Progress found 7,583 mentions of the word "debt," compared to 427 mentions of "unemployment" on all three networks combined.

Tracking those same three networks the week of Oct. 6, when Occupy Wall Street went "mainstream," Think Progress noted a drastic change:

With the debt ceiling debates behind the country and thanks partly to the pressure being brought upon politicians and the media by the 99 Percent Movement and the occupations taking place all over the country, it looks as if the press is finally focusing on the jobs crisis and the behavior of Wall Street instead. A ThinkProgress review of the same three networks between Oct. 10 and Oct. 16 finds that the word “debt” only netted 398 mentions, while “occupy” grabbed 1,278, Wall Street netted 2,378, and jobs got 2,738:

When it comes to the perceived social inequity that drives the Occupy Wall Street movement, most social media users blame the government, with many also casting responsibility on President Barack Obama and capitalism, according to NM Incite. The analytics firm looked at at 12,409 tweets with the hashtag #OccupyWallstreet from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12 to see what's driving the conversation. Here's what they found:

General support for the cause was the most prevalent theme, comprising 22 percent of all #OccupyWallStreet tweets. However, 11 percent of tweets used the hashtag to voice their complaints against the movement.

The majority of social media users indicate they feel the government is responsible for social inequity, although many point to the president and capitalism as other sources of the problem.

Most of the tweets came from the East and West coasts, as well as from Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Texas, which matches an increase in #Occupy check-in areas as similar occupation protests spread across the U.S.

Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff calls Occupy Wallstreet "America's first true Internet-era movement," and with social media now thoroughly enmeshed in every aspect of news, the Internet is indeed driving this story.

More on the annoying way we live now:

Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet. Tell her to get a real job on Twitter and/or FacebookAlso, Google+.