The Death of Osama bin Laden: News Diffusion and the Role of New Media


  • Larry J. King Stephen F. Austin State University
  • Jack Glascock Illinois State University
  • Linda Levitt Stephen F. Austin State University



A survey concerning the diffusion of information about the death of Osama bin Laden was administered to 324 undergraduate students at a university in the Southwest United States. Results of the survey indicated that a majority, 59.6%, of the participants indicated that they first heard of bin Laden’s death through a new media source (text message, internet news site, or social networking site), and a significant number, 40.4%, indicated that they had first heard the news through a social networking site. Within the matter of a few hours of the first media coverage of bin Laden’s death, 80% of respondents had heard the news. While new media played an important role in diffusion of information about bin Laden’s death, face-to-face communication was most often used by those who reported sharing the news about bin Laden’s death. Results of the current study seem to support that there were some differences between participants’ use of media to get information on bin Laden’s death based on gender and race/ethnicity.


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