Looking back at the ruckus following the Nobel Peace Prize award to President Obama, the reactions are fascinating to observe on both sides of the “aisle” of the politicosphere.
With a little bit of tweaking (removing query words, adding weight to the most frequent words in the title etc.) here are two very revealing word clouds.
Guess which one is extracted from the progressive side and which comes from the conservative side
This may not qualify as a rigorous “sentiment analysis” process but it sure does reveal some raw emotions…
Will Charlie Rangel become an “albatross around the neck of House incumbents next year” as Marc Ambinder wrote in The Atlantic? Are bloggers up in arms over the Chairman’s alleged corruption charges? Not so much it seems, according to our data.
In spite of the seriousness of the allegations, and the “guilty until proven innocent” drumbeat of Fox News, we are not seeing (yet?) any kind of uprising beyond a relatively limited number of outraged posts.
Buzz level of the Rangel story in the Politicosphere sample this week
On the left, this week’s vote a was a quasi- non event, genereating 20 posts or so. On the right, out of our sample of 1202 conservative sites and blogs, only 74 sites bothered to write about Charlie Rangel in the past week (from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9), with a peak on October 7th culminating at… 54 posts, accounting for a meager 2.12% of all content published within the conservative universe that day. Hardly a scandal deserving the ever useful “–gate” suffix, at least not yet (let’s wait for the results of the investigation probe).
That being said, the results of this week’s vote on the third attempt to remove Charlie Rangel were hardly surprising and newsworthy. Much more serious over time (and we’ll keep an eye on it) is the continuous “drip drip” of corruption allegations against a prominent Democrat, fueling a “corruption narrative” (Marc Ambinder again) that Glenn Becks and the likes feed upon.
Word cloud for stories related to Charlie Rangel in the conservative blogosphere
It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out over the next few months and whether the story remains alive online in the meantime.
It’s been a busy week in the politicosphere, with heavy coverage and discussions about three prominent news topics: the war in Afghanistan and the need for more troops, the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council resolution, and the perennial health care reform debate.
News Trends - Content published across a sample of 13 000 sites
What’s newsworthy –or blogworthy- however largely depends on which part of the web you’re looking at, or which community one hails from. By and large, health care reform remains the dominant topic of discussion within the conservative and progressive communities.
Out of a sample of 1202 conservative blogs and 1190 progressive blogs, health care reform accounted for 9.7% and 12.3% of new content respectively during the week of Sept. 21 to Sept. 27. By comparison, discussions about the need for more troops in Afghanistan “only” accounted for 4.8% of content published on the conservative side vs. 3.5 on the liberal side. The same topic however fired up the Defense (23.1%) and International Affairs (15.7%) communities which naturally dedicated more content to this topic than any other this week.
Visualization of publishing activity within both communities
The International Affairs community got even busier by the second half of the week with a series of news coming out of the United Nations General Assembly, environment summit and security council resolution. The environmental community got stirred up as well by the U.N. Climate Summit in the run-up to Copenhagen.
Let’s see next week if the G-20 summit manages to garner as much attention.
A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times dedicated a very clear and concise article to the ambitious research spearheaded by Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University on “Meme-tracking and the Dynamics of the News Cycle”. The research team “studied the news cycle by looking for repeated phrases and tracking their appearances on 1.6 million mainstream media sites and blogs. Some 90 million articles and blog posts, which appeared from August through October, were scrutinized with their phrase-finding software”.
The research concluded that blogs typically trail behind “MSM”, except in rare instances (3.5% of story lines to be precise) where a handful of blogs picked up on the news first.
Unsurprisingly, these are not just any blogs but professional and quasi-professional political blogs with the connections, competence and credibility that in effect puts them on par with traditional news organizations.
We recently had the opportunity to look up close at one such instance where an influential political blog “broke the news”, initiating a new news cycle as national media followed suit. The following video is a visualization of the propagation of the story as it moves across the online political landscape.
note: this visualization was created afterwards, based on a sample of articles covering the story, to dynamically represent the speed at which this particular piece of information spread from a well-identified source to many other blogs and media sites. It is not “real-time” propagation and does not represent every article and every site referencing the story. For methodology questions regarding the map itself, please refer to the “Keys” section on this page
“I know the blogs are best at debunking myths that can slip through a lot of the traditional media outlets,” he said. “And that is why you are going to play such an important role in our success in the weeks to come.”
If blogs are critical in the current battle for public opinon, then there may be real cause for concern: according to our sample of almost 2500 political sites and blogs, conservatives are winning hands down, with almost twice as many posts as the progressive side (4642 posts vs. 2785 in the past 15 days).
Health care reform has kept the conservative blogosphere extremely busy, accounting for 41.4% of content published in the conservative blogosphere over the past 2 weeks, with an average of 9 posts per conservative blog (vs. 6 on the progressive side).
Not sure yet whether the conference call gave a boost to progressive bloggers, but this is one campaign on the internet the President does not seem to be winning.
Following the publication of our updated map of the political web, and in response to some questions we’ve received, here’s a top 5 list of conservative and progressive blogs excerpted from this dataset.
Please note this ranking is based on hyperlinks patterns (inbound links from other sites within the dataset) and does not take into account traffic comments or third-party data. Feel free to report to the “Map Keys” page under the Map tab.
If you have been paying attention to the health care reform debate, you may have seen the “obamacare” expression creep up in headlines and blog posts…depending on which sites you have been reading.
The graph below is a screenshot from linkfluence’s “linkscape” dashboard, showing the progressive growth of content mentioning obamacare.
Unsurprisingly, this content stems by and large from the conservative side of the web, but has begun spilling over to other communities which, in the case of progressive blogs, are attempting to respond in kind. The more the discussion revolves around obamacare, the more the issue is likely to become personalized and entrenched.
Based on the posts collected through the linkscape dashboard within each community, the following word cloud* shows a very clear-cut picture of the chatter brewing within each community.
In red, expressions from the conservative web, in blue, expressions from the progressive web: rings a bell?
*(we pulled the words and expressions most specific to one community vs. the other and emphasized them to underscore those semantic differences)
Politicosphere.net follows in the footsteps of PresidentialWatch08.com, a site created in 2008 to map the US political web and keep tab on the online pulse of the election.
The election has come and gone, but the political web remains more vibrant than ever. The charts, feeding off of a large sample of political and news sites on the U.S., aim to reflect current trends and discussion topics, as new issues arise on the political agenda. The map of the politicosphere (read the “notice” page for details) represents a large, qualified sample of the most active and authoritative online sources covering politics. It is by no means comprehensive or perfect, but it provides a unique way of navigating the network graph of US politics.
To learn more about linkfluence’s mapping, mining and research services, feel free to contact us.