September 8, 2006

Croc Hunter’s Demise Eats the News Hole

Number of Stories 9/4 – 9/5
“Steve Irwin” 2170
“Crocodile “ 1960
“Crocodile Hunter” 1940
“Stingray” 1920
“Al Qaeda” 1100
“Crikey” 919
“Irwin” and “Animal Planet” 627
“Irwin” and “Children” 598
“Crocodile Hunter” and “Children” 567
“Irwin” and “khaki” 541
“Irwin” and “danger” 441
“Congressional Elections” 433
“Irwin” and “naturalist” 283
“Irwin” and “cable” 211
“Irwin” and “passion” 155
“Irwin” and “baby” 155
“Irwin” and “hero” 51
“Irwin” and “crazy” 38
“Irwin” and “Michael Jackson” 7
“Irwin” and “Diana” 6

The tragic death of television’s wildlife wild man Steve Irwin, killed by a stingray off the Great Barrier Reef on September 4, generated a massive amount of media interest in the beginning of that week. Here are the numbers:

There were 2170 stories about the man in khaki on Google News Monday to Tuesday afternoon that included the term “Steve Irwin,” 1960 stories featuring “Crocodile,” 1940 stories with the words “Crocodile Hunter, 1920 that included “Stingray,” and 919 with Irwin’s trademark exclamation “Crikey!” (Even on the eve of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, stories including the term “Al Qaeda” lagged behind the Irwin avalanche.)

Some of the more unusual search terms found on Google's aggregation of international English-language media were “Irwin” and “Michael Jackson,” which turned up seven articles largely linking Irwin to the king of pop because both men put babies in perilous situations – Jackson on a balcony and Irwin with a live crocodile. His name was even once connected with “JFK” when an Australian woman likened the impact of his death on children to the former president’s. Cable viewers will know it commanded an enormous amount of time on that medium as well.

Irwin was a big topic in the blogosphere as well. There crocodile hunter death accounts, obits and remembrances made up six of the top 10 stories that bloggers were linking to on news sites, according to the website for the 48-hour period going back from Tuesday afternoon.