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How media analytics can help journalists track the Trump presidency

Sifting through the increasing flow of information to ensure focus on the key issues has become one of the main challenges for the media today.

The sheer volume of information has made differentiating the important from the noise increasingly difficult. Add to that the tactic of power brokers to leverage information overload to hide the key bits and the task becomes even taller.

The current term of US President Donald Trump is a case in point. Political analysts have written extensively about Trump’s ability to quickly change topics in an effort to steer the spotlight from issues that don’t suit his agenda. Skillful use of short, often ambiguous, messages to open new issues or rekindle old ones is a tactic that has often allowed him to direct the media agenda.

Media analytic tools can help keep focus

Keeping focus in these times is a goal for editors and journalists. A clear strategy for what is truly in the public interest from the outlets perspective makes the job easier, but in the Trump presidency this has been complicated by the fact that everything that the US president does tends to be of interest to the public.

A simple search in Event Registry reveals over 96,000 events involving Donald Trump since the US elections on 8 November 2016. Events are generated through clustering of articles on the same development reported by media around the world. For a comparison, a search for Lionel Messi, arguable the world’s best known athlete playing the world’s most famous past-time, finds around 8,000 events in the same period.

What does the data reveal?

The broad media coverage of Trump can be narrowed quickly using Event Registry’s default feature of listing events by relevance. The list of the 20 most relevant events gives a quick insight into the main issues reported on by the media in this time: alleged contacts between Trump’s team and Russia, the border wall, budget, administration appointments, the travel ban and the health care bill.

Graph of top concepts

Similarly, a graph of top concepts appearing in events quickly sums up some of the key issues appearing in the events involving Trump. Russia features prominently among entities, while business, trade, terrorism and immigration are the top terms appearing among non-entities.

Why is the data important?

One of the core functions of Event Registry – clustering of articles into events – presents a novel way of news tracking and subsequently retaining focus on the main issues. With thousands of articles being generated every day on the Trump presidency, clustering allows a much quicker overview of the stories being reported in these articles.

The multiple analysis and visualization features integrated into Event Registry lets the user delve into an event either by browsing through the individual articles (ranked by story centrality, date, importance of source or social media impact), examination of the key concepts being reported or even to look for similar stories.

Analysis features are available in a drop down menu.

When can journalists and editors utilize media analysis?

Whether it be searching for ideas, researching a story, performing analysis for an opinion piece or prepping for an in-depth profile, journalists can quickly sift through a trove of valuable information by using Event Registry. The compacted overview provided by the event feature can help speed up the process of research. The sheer volume of articles collected by the system ensures that those wanting to delve deeper can do so – all in one place.

For example, when searching the main milestones in an ongoing story, such as the investigation into alleged contacts of Trump’s team with Russia, Event Registry provides a useful timeline of events related to this topic. Apart from allowing quick identification of milestones, the interactive graph provides quick access to the events which occurred at those milestones. These can then be opened to show the relevant articles.

Obtaining a timeline of events for a given search is simple.

Media analysis is also of use to editors looking to examine their outlet’s reporting, compare it to the competition and map a strategy for future reporting. Depending on the outlet’s focus, the data provided on what is being reported and how, and the impact of stories on social networks, will help define what aspects of the Trump presidency deserve extra attention.

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