It’s a safe bet that by now you are completely burned out on Weinergate. And I know why. News coverage of NY Representative Anthony Weiner’s bizarre sex scandal has been wall-to-wall since the story broke; it’s on the news, on the web, and in your Twitter feed. Pew Research Center found that the story accounted for up to 17% of total news coverage at one point – 3 times the coverage of the President Obama during the same period! I took a look at online news coverage – legitimate news outlets online – and found that Mr. Weiner has outpaced a variety of other (in)famous debauchers in volume of coverage.

In the first week alone, Weiner’s indiscretions were mentioned a whopping 13,000 times in online news articles. That compares to just 4.5k mentions for Schwarzenegger’s scandal and 2.5k mentions when Eliot Spitzer got caught with his wallet out. That’s a huge difference compared to how these scandals were picked up by print publications (yes, they still make them out of paper) during the same period. Newspapers and magazines ran just under 600 stories about Weiner in the first week of coverage. Compare that to 3k stories for Spitzer, 2k for Tiger and 1.6k for the former Governator. So why did print media snub Weiner while online outlets went crazy for him?

  • The internet is getting pretty popular. While it’s not the whole story, over the past couple of years online news has become a primary source for many readers. There are more news outlets online and they are pumping out more coverage than ever before (the graph is in chronological order of event).
  • While most sex scandals involve mistresses, escorts and housekeepers, Weiner’s trysts were primarily virtual. Kind of makes sense that online news outlets would be interested in what happens online.
  • What happens on Twitter…. is everyone’s duty to retweet. People who use Twitter and Facebook were intrigued to find their communication tool being used scandalously by an authority figure and everyone wanted to talk about it. The constant buzz on social media let news outlets know that reader interest was high.
  • With layers of photos and chat transcripts being revealed, online news outlets had an excuse to post multiple articles and updates on the story.
  • The story is a little smutty. Print pubs are typically a bit more traditional and might have preferred to mention the situation and move on…instead of dishing the dirty details.

Why do you think Weinergate is so hot online? Is the story really worthy of so much more coverage than other recent sex scandals? Let us know what you think is behind Weiner’s big numbers by leaving a comment.