The Iran Election and Social Media The New News Revolution

The Iran Election and Social Media The New News Revolution

Analysis by Emily Luger, Nielsen Online

The Iranian election is yet another watershed moment in the ongoing evolution of news and media, further blurring the lines between being, reporting, and following the story. In the two weeks since the controversy and conflict surrounding the election, a number of insights have emerged about how the Internet and social media continue to be a transforming force for the News industry. Initial Nielsen analysis of search results provides some conclusions, while others areas beg additional probing.

Findings from an  Internet snapshot from June 18, 2009:

  • Wikipedia emerges within the top two search results for 4/5 of the leading topics.
  • At least one social media source emerges within the top 10 search results for every term. In most cases, the social media sites emerge directly above a traditional, major news source, such as

Google Search Results: Est. 2:30 PM Thursday, June 18, 2009
Rank Iran Iran Protest Iran


Moussavi Ahmadinejad
1 Wikipedia MSNBC Wikipedia Wikipedia WSJ
2 BBC MSNBC Yahoo Wikipedia
3 Yahoo CNN
4 YahooNews AlJezeera MSNBC YouTube
5 InfoPlease GlobalVoices CBS Yahoo
6 IranDaily WashingtonTimes Boing Boing
7 AFP Google Article NY Times
8 NY Times BBC Gsd.harvard CNN
9 HuffingtonPost Personaldemocracy
10 Guardian YouTube Washingtonindependent Google Video
11 WSJ Aljezeera
12 BBC SFGate NY Times
13 Commentary CNN Washington Post
14 Reuters
15 Washington Post Mashable
16 Foxnews MSNBC
17 Stopahmadinejad

In a follow-up snapshot on June 24, a marked shift takes place, reaffirming the Iran election story as a watershed moment for online news and communications:

  • YouTube emerges within the top 10 search results for all search terms in the second week.
  • Wikipedia remains within the top three search results in the second week for four of the five search terms.
  • Twitter emerges within the top 20 search results in week two – specifically, the Twitter results for Moussavi and Ahmadinejad. Of course, traditional news sources such as the BBC (and CNN, in week two) bubble to the top of search results, as do general information sites such as and

Google Search Results: Est. 3:30 PM Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Rank Iran Iran Protest Iran Election Moussavi Ahmadinejad
1 Wikipedia Minneapolis Star CNN Wikipedia Wikipedia
2 Ahmadinejadjr.
3 Topics.nyimes Mashable Guardian
4 YouTube Guardian Wikipedia CNN YouTube
5 English.aljazeera Theledeblogs.

6 Guardian BBC Yahoo Csmonitor
7 BBC NPR Guardian Yahoo
8 Iran-Daily YouTube TIME
9 Yahoo Huffington Post Attackerman.


10 Infoplease YouTube Washington Post
11 Yahoo News YouTube washingtonindependent English.aljazeera
12 FoxNews Energyoutlook.



13 Reuters
14 Globalvoicesonline BBC


NY Times
15 WSJ Washington Post
17 CBS News Stopahmadinejad

What this means is that general human curiosity is driving people to look to all available sources for information.  The conflict in Iran presenting the latest and perhaps most sophisticated example of how the world has changed for journalists, the media and increasingly active media consumers alike.

So what else do the search results signify? Is consumer generated media (news by the people, for the people) eclipsing traditional sources? Are people more frequently linking to Wikipedia than the New York Times for information about Iran? What does it mean that Mashable is among the top three search results for “Iran Election?” What role does Twitter play? As major events break (Iran, Health Care, Michael Jackson) we will continue to dive into the data and present answers to these questions, both through our own analysis and through feedback and opinions of others. After all, if weve learned anything in the last few weeks, it’s that the power is in the hands of the people… What do you think?