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Thursday, July 6, 2006

News Content Analysis Through Google

You can analyze and evaluate a given news site by comparing its “Googleshare” of particular topics with other news sites. For example, when you search FOX News for all occurrences of “Bush” and “success”, and for all occurrences of “Bush” and “defeat”, you get a ratio in favor of “Bush” + “success” of roughly 9 of 10 (the query bush success returns 10,300 pages, the query bush defeat returns 978 pages). However, do the same search on, and the ratio of “success” is at only roughly 4.6 of 10.

Another example compares coverage of “Amnesty International” vs coverage of “NATO”. I’m again using and because they’re relatively far apart in opinions from what I can tell. Querying for “amnesty international” returns 509 pages, the same for “nato” returns 766 page; in other words, there are 1.5 more news articles on FOX covering NATO than Amnesty International. The same comparison done on on the other hand reveals the coverage of Amnesty International is 4.3 times higher than that of NATO (at least when you count the phrase mentions on Google-indexed pages).
You can interpret these results in different ways; for example, might have a bias towards covering Amnesty International press releases. Or FOX might have a bias towards ignoring them. (The same in reverse for coverage of NATO-related news.)

Another comparison pits “Bush said” against “Bush is"; the purpose here is to find out how often a news article quotes a person, and how often it judges or tells of a person. Naturally this is no clear indicator of opinion, as the phrases may be used in many other contexts. (It may also simply be a different writing style, not a different opinion causing these results. In fact, repeating the search with “Gore” I got different result than an expected left/ right bias.) The results for some news sites are as follows:

Google search queryEstimated result count “bush said”23,400 “bush is”16,100 “bush said”18,200 “bush is”24,000 “bush said”142,000 “bush is”191,000 “bush said”48,300 “bush is”245,000


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