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Analysing the News Followers

September 14, 2011

If anyone is following the current events in the US they would be aware that the country is very polarized. The political climate is very tense, grinding most legislation to a crawl.

Some blame is projected towatrds the media for fuelling the divide of people into political corners. As such I thought it would be interesting to take four major US news networks and analyse something from the articles from each. More precisely I wanted to take a sample of comments by the readers from each article and do some charts in excel to see what type of people are attracted to the particular news sites.

The four news networks and articles I chose are as follows:

CNN: Considered a centre oriented politically. However some argue that it’s left of centre.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/US/09/11/911.commemoration/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

‘Nation looks ahead with hope after remembering 9/11 victims’

 

Fox News: Considered a more conservative news station.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/11/america-marks-ten-years-since-11/

‘America Marks Ten Years Since 9/11’

 

 

MSNBC news: Considered a more liberal news station

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44474533/ns/us_news-9_11_ten_years_later/

‘Obama: America does not give in to fear’

[The article title wasn’t as neutral as I wanted it to be, but there was nothing else]

ABC news: Tends to be considered centre oriented.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/September_11/sept-11-america-marks-10th-anniversary-911-attacks/story?id=14481689

‘America Marks 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks’

I tried to pick a neutral topic that was covered by all stations. The September 11 anniversary was a good choice as it was featured in all news sites and in theory shouldn’t be politically tainted.

I took a sample of 100 comments from each article, giving me a total of 400 comments.

I ignored sub-comments. My reasoning was that sub-comments may be provoked by the original poster, which would not have been posted otherwise.

The Charts

 This chart shows all the comments divided into categories and further divided by the news channels.

Interesting things to note:

  • MSNBC & ABC news both had a much higher positive/inspirational amount of comments.
  • Fox news had a much higher amount of negative Obama/current government comment. Which was expected.
  • CNN had both most negative anniversary comments and was swamped with conspiracy posters.
  • All stations had a lot of comments not related to the article in any way.

This is the same as the above chart but with aggregated totals of all channels into each category.

Basically same data as the above this time as a pie chart. I colour coded the positive, negative and other types of comments into green, red & yellow respectively. Less than a quarter of comments are positive.

Final this chart is just looking at the comments talking about the current government and past government in both positive and negative ways. The more conservative Fox news has the most negative Obama/his government comments, but interestingly MSNBC that is considered more left leaning came in second. Looking at the positive Obama/his government comments, the same channels win out over the other two.  Perhaps the more polarizing the network is perceived, the more ideologically divided viewers it attracts.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2011 5:29 pm

    Interesting study. I wonder what it means that that ABC viewers are completely off-topic. Just somewhat humorous to me. Thanks for the effort you put in to run those numbers!

    • September 14, 2011 5:57 pm

      Thinking about it, the ABC news doesn’t have sub-comments, so a lot of comments were replying to other people. There was a number of off-topic conversations going such as religion, public holidays etc.

  2. Alen permalink
    September 14, 2011 9:55 pm

    I have nothing else to say than I am amazed you had enough time/were dedicated enough to give unto us these statistics. Well done!

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