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Crocodile Hunter Crashes News Sites

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-09-05

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Early reports of the sudden and tragic death of 44-year-old Steve Irwin sent millions of people online to find out if the rumors were true.

Those rumors quickly proved correct. The well-known dangerous-animal conservationist had died in Australian waters after sustaining a fatal wound from a stingray's tail. The disbelief that a generally benign creature like the stingray could bring down a man who had been catching crocodiles from age 9 led many to hit news sites in hordes.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported how it and its sister site at theage.com.au both began to experience significant slowdowns. That report cited web measurement firm Hitwise in noting that Australian Internet traffic to print news and media websites hit a peak not seen since a mid-May miner rescue incident.

A number of sites felt the stress as Irwin's fans searched for more information:

Other key news sites also showed signs of strain and some, including CNN, had to switch to a "lite" mode, ditching bandwidth-hungry elements on the home page in order to cope with the surge in usage.

In Australia, the ABC news site temporarily crashed under the weight of clicks and came back shortly after with a home page that only displayed the one story that everyone wanted to read.

Google News currently lists over 2,400 stories about Irwin, and that topic has stayed atop Google News for over a day. Blog search sites like Sphere and Technorati both list Steve Irwin as a top search for posts throughout the blogosphere.

Fans have also begun to make their tributes known online as well. The report noted how fan-created films showed up on video-sharing sites like YouTube and Google Video. The Discovery Channel has posted a video news clip and other information about Irwin, and also announced it would rename garden space in front of the network's headquarters to the "Steve Irwin Memorial Sensory Garden."

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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