It’s Back…SOTU 2012 as a Word Cloud

Hi everyone,

My sincerest apologies for the prolonged delay. Between a new job, moving and settling in, unfortunately this has taken a backburner. But what better time to get started than President Obama’s State of the Union Address, practically the kick-off for this year’s presidential election? And what better way to get back than to create one of my favorite multimedia tools, a word cloud from Wordle?

In case you forgot (can’t blame you if you did), Wordle is a free website that creates “beautiful word clouds” out of any body of text, with word size corresponding to frequency, i.e. the more it’s used, the bigger it appears. Please find the graphic – you may click to enlarge it – and analysis below of the commander-in-chief’s approximately hour-long speech.

Wordle: SOTU 2012

  • As leader of a divided country and in front of a partisan Congress, President Obama brought forth a message of unity with enthusiasm. The words “our” or “ours” appeared 83 times, “we” or “we’ve” 99 times, and “us” and “together” 12 and 8 times, respectively.
  • The most frequently used adjective and proper noun? “American” and “America,” totaling 33 and 29 mentions apiece. “Americans” and “people” registered 20 times each as well.
  • Another main theme was the economy (12 times) and the main non-proper noun was the topic on everyone’s minds: “jobs,” with 32 appearances (“new” rang in at 26), while “work” and “workers” combined for 28 times. “Tax” and “energy” also dominated, spoken 22 and 23 times, respectively.
  • Positive verbs are always present in an Obama speech and last night was no different. “Will” led the pack with a staggering 57 appearances. “Make” and “help” were said 15 and 13 times, and the President’s “need” and “want” had 13 and 12 each.
  • Like most third-year addresses, Obama also wanted to provide perspective. “Year” and “years” totaled 37 appearances, while “time” had 16.
  • The so-called buzz words were only mentioned briefly. The widely-discussed “milk” joke only required 3 mentions, the various “unit(s)” only 7. But, of course, Obama’s tried and true slogan that swept him into office four years ago appeared 25 times – “can.”

What are your thoughts on the address? What other points did Obama emphasize or leave out? And how does it set the tone for his re-election campaign?

As this election season unfolds, I’m excited to be back and hopefully see you through to November and beyond!

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Bitter Tweet Weekend

The dreaded Twitter "fail whale" error message. | Photo courtesy flickr user michperu

Amidst the celebrations from the July 4th, a bluebird soared higher than a bald eagle. Several Twitter related stories emerged from the holiday weekend:

  • First and foremost, the Twitter account of Fox News Politics was hacked over the weekend and tweeted that President Barack Obama had been assassinated, a move that is now being investigated by the Secret Service. The six malicious tweets went out to 34,000 followers have since been deleted.
  • In more positive Twitter news, Vice President Joe Biden opened his own account on the microblogging site. The account, using the handle @VP, will be administered by his staff.
  • The White House also announced that tomorrow at 2 p.m. EST it would hold a Twitter town hall, that will be streamed live at http://askobama.twitter.com and http://wh.gov/live. Politico’s Mike Allen posted a minute-long video on the multimedia page about the town hall.

Stayed tuned for other trending stories related to Twitter or other social media and multimedia.

 

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Oy, Obama! Politico Tackles the Jewish Vote

Franklin Roosevelt, father of the Democratic Jewish vote? | Photo courtest Flickr user San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives

For generations, American Jews have voted for the Democratic Party. But Politico has dedicated some of its digital ink on whether President Obama may have put the Jewish vote in jeopardy.

First, a brief history about the so-called “Jewish vote.” Franklin Roosevelt is widely credited with swaying a Jewish majority to vote for the Democratic Party, because he had Jewish member of his Cabinet (Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthou) and successfully fought the Nazis in World War II. Yet according to the Jewish Virtual Library, American Jews started to lean Democratic in the 1920s, going for John Davis and Al Smith in losing efforts. Roosevelt reinforced the trend, enjoying over 80% of the Jewish vote in all four of his terms, and the Democratic Party hasn’t lost it since. Dwight Eisenhower was the last Republican to earn even 40% of Jewish voters, though Ronald Reagan reached 39%. In the last twenty years, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama have enjoyed over 75% Jewish support.

However, Obama has come under fire in recent months for his policy towards Israel, an issue close to many Jewish voters. Two months ago, Obama called for Israeli-Palestinian two-state negotiations based on 1967 borders, which some claimed undermined Israeli authority. Today, the White House said it would negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that does not recognize Israel. Yet Obama has reaffirmed his support for Israel, funding Israeli anti-missile systems and declaring at the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC conference, “Even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad.”

In response to this issue, Politico devoted some of its coverage on the issue of the Jewish vote:

  • In a three-page piece article, Ben Smith writes that “Obama may be losing the faith of Jewish Democrats”. Smith says he spoke to dozens of Jewish leaders and donors, and when it comes to Obama and the Jewish community, he declares: “Based on the conversations with POLITICO, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that some kind of tipping point has been reached.”
  • Attached to the article is a video of Politico’s Patrick Gavin on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The approximately minute-and-a-half clip discusses Obama and the Jewish vote. Gavin reminds viewers that “the reality is that we do tend to hear this every four years,” but there is “anxiety” in some Jewish circles. The same video appears in the article on the Muslim Brotherhood, further bringing the point home.
  • There is also an opinion piece by former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein of Florida, saying that “Jewish voters will stick by Obama”. Klein asserts that Obama “is showing profound and mature leadership, and while ultimately, it is up to the parties themselves, we cannot give up.”
  • The debate page, Arena, asked the question, “Is President Obama’s Jewish support slipping?” Over two dozen contributors weighed in, including former Congressional members, CEOs and even Boston University’s own Tom Fiedler, dean of the College of Communication, and journalism professor Robert Zelnick.

    Screenshot of Ben Smith's article, "Obama may be losing the faith of Jewish Democrats." The image is from Obama's appearance at a conference for the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

Meanwhile, Republicans are hoping to take advantage of the situation and reverse the Jewish Democratic trend in 2012. Presidential hopefuls have been particularly tough on Obama’s policies towards Israel, an issue close to many Jewish voters. Among the outcry after Obama’s borders plan, former governor Mitt Romney remarked that Obama “has thrown Israel under the bus,” while Rep. Ron Paul added, “Unlike this President, I do not believe it is our place to dictate how Israel runs her affairs.”
Recently, in a foreign policy speech, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty said, “It breaks my heart that President Obama treats Israel, our great friend, as a problem, rather than as an ally.” Rep. Michele Bachmann also mentioned Israel during her candidacy announcement, saying, “We can’t afford four more years of a foreign policy that leads from behind and doesn’t stand up for our friends, like Israel, and [that] too often fails to stand up to our enemies.”

It will be interesting to see how Politico reports on this issue going forward and if they pay similar attention to other minority voters.

Do you think Obama has lost the Jewish vote? How did Politico handle its coverage? I look forward to your feedback.

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Bachmann Launches Campaign

The 2012 presidential field expanded today when Representative Michele Bachmann announced her candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. The Minnesota congresswoman made her run official from her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. Politico has covered this story from various angles and multimedia, with some issues.

Screenshot of Politico lead, "Bachmann: We will win in 2012." Approximately 5 p.m.

  • The lead of Bachmann’s announcement is accompanied by a half dozen articles, including a story about from a weekend poll in Iowa that puts Bachmann in a dead heat with Mitt Romney, as well her emphasis on her roots in Iowa.
  • The main article also features a five-minute video of the speech and the White House’s lack of response to it. There is also a slideshow of Bachmann throughout the years, as far back as 2003. However, there is no link to 14 photos as the slideshow is embedded into the site – only individual images can be accessed.
  • In another glitch, there is a clip labeled “W.H. on run: no reaction” that instead plays, “Carney: budget deal still possible ‘this year.'” The question related to Bachmann’s candidacy can only be found on the main multimedia page.
  • There is also video and several articles on Bachmann’s appearance on “Fox News Sunday”, where Chris Wallace asked if the congresswoman was a “flake” and her deflection to accept Wallace’s apology. There is additional coverage on Bachmann saying that John Wayne is from Waterloo, when he was actually born in Winterset, Iowa – though his parents did have a home in Waterloo.

    File photo of Snowden House in Waterloo, where Bachmann made her announcement. | Photo courtesy WikiCommons user RifeIdeas

     

  • Perhaps in response to her recovery from her Fox News apperance and other gaffes, Arena posed the question: “Michele Bachmann: most improved candidate?”
  • As with all other candidates, 2012 has a full profile on Bachmann, where information and latest updates can be found.

Politico provides plenty of content, but Politico let some multimedia glitches go in their rush to publish the coverage. You could even call it flaky.

http://www.politico.com/2012-election/michele-bachmann/index.html20
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Obama’s Plan in Afghanistan as World Cloud

Here is another example of using multimedia to look more closely at President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan. As a refresher, Wordle is a free website that creates “beautiful word clouds” out of any body of text, with words appearing larger if used more frequently. Please find the graphic and analysis below.
Wordle: President Obama's Plan in Afghanistan

  • No surprises on the most visible themes (not in order): Afghan/Afghanistan, America/American(s), country, government; al Qaeda, Taliban, war, security, forces, troops.
  • One modal verb appears 16 times stands out from the major themes: “must”. This is indicative of Obama’s obligatory, insisting tone.
  • Another group of words speak of unity, prominently featured in the president’s remarks: one, people, nation, home, effort. Though not included in the cloud, “we” and “our” were spoken 106 times combined.
  • Unlike last time, Obama does not emphasize al Qaeda’s leader, members or actions. 9/11, terrorist(s), Osama bin Laden, attacks – all were mentioned less than five times. So was the supposed buzz word, “responsible/responsibility”.
  • Pakistan and Iraq were downplayed as well, with only three times each.

What did you find interesting? What was highlighted or omitted?

Now that Politico Watch is back in full swing, look for more coverage of political events and analysis of pages, with a new Page Watch coming soon.

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Obama’s Plan in Afghanistan

US troops will pull out of Afghanistan in the tens of thousands. Photo by Flickr user San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives.

Hours after President Obama’s primetime address to the nation, the web is whirring in response to the Commander-in-Chief’s order that 33,000 American troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by next summer. The remarks also featured Pakistan, Iraq and the uprisings in Egypt and the Arab world, and concluded a domestic plea for unity, declaring that “it is time to focus on nation building here at home.”

Politico was no stranger to the coverage, reporting the speech and its aftermath from various viewpoints with social media and multimedia.

  • Directly from the homepage, over a dozen articles were related to the speech. Interesting pieces noted the absence of General Petraeus from the president’s remarks and the theme of Osama bin Laden, the subject of the president’s previous speech from the White House.
  • The GOP’s response was also heard, including Speaker of the House John Boehner and several 2012 presidential candidates. The Politico Page 2012 broke down the reactions by candidate, placing Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney on the right and Jon Huntsman on the left.
  • Other Politico Pages weighed in, too. 44 provided the liberal and conservative perspectives, by Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. John McCain, respectively. Arena, the Politico debate page that will be discussed in the next Page Watch posed the question, “Can Obama split the difference in Afghanistan?”

    Screenshot from Politico's initial lead after his Afghanistan address.

  • In terms of video, President Obama’s Afghanistan address may be viewed in full, as well a two-minute summary of various pundits’ reactions (starting with a confused Rachel Maddow and third-person Sen. Lindsey Graham.
  • Politico was also a-Twitter in social media. The Politico account tweeted four times during the address, then retweeted five reactions using the hashtag #reax. 10 articles related to the speech were tweeted after that, with other articles sprinkled in as well.

Overall, Politico was all over this important address that may not have been as dramatic as bin Laden’s death, but significant nevertheless. Tune in at 12 PM EST for the reveal of the word cloud of his thirteen-minute speech, created by Wordle, and further analysis of the body of text itself. Thanks for reading!

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Preview: Obama’s Plan in Afghanistan

Screenshot from 7 PM EST, an hour from President Obama's address on Afghanistan.

Welcome to Politico Watch’s new home on JoshMellits.com.

My sincere apologies for the extended Politico Watch hiatus. The past month has been particularly busy, between graduating from Boston University and revamping the site. The political world has been buzzing during that time, from the shaping of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate field to the Anthony Weiner scandal. Now, Politico Watch is integrated into my online portfolio, so please visit joshmellits.com/politico-watch for continuing coverage of Politico and the world of domestic and foreign politics.

When Politico Watch left off, President Obama delivered the news of the capture of Osama bin Laden. Politico Watch’s return comes not a moment too soon as the president prepares another speech. In about an hour, President Obama will address the nation from the White House on the topic of Afghanistan. Politico already has a three-page article as its lead, as seen in the screenshot above. The story discusses previously released withdrawal details: 5,000 troops out this summer, another 5,000 out by year’s end and the rest of the 33,000-soldier surge out by the end of next summer. Videos from Obama’s December 2009 surge announcement and White House press comments are also included.

Politico Watch will track how Politico responds in the wake of the speech. Additionally, as soon as the transcript is available, I will once again turn to Wordle to analyze the text of the president’s remarks. Thanks for rejoining and stay tuned.

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Obama’s Announcement as a Word Cloud

Another interesting take on President Obama’s announcement late Sunday night is highlighting key words used during his carefully crafted remarks. Wordle is a free website that creates “beautiful word clouds” out of any body of text, with words appearing larger if used more frequently. Below is the entire transcript of Obama’s momentous speech. Click the graphic itself for a larger size.

Wordle: Obama Announces bin Laden's Death

A few observations:

  • Obviously, the main words that stick out are “bin Laden” and “al Qaeda.” The Commander-in-Chief took a militaristic tone, using “war,” “operation” and “attacks.”
  • Yet Obama also brings the message home – literally. “United States,” “people,” “American,” “country,” and “citizens” appear  prominently.
  • Unity is also trumpeted –  “allies,” “friends” “world” and “God”
  • It’s also noteworthy what isn’t emphasized. The religion of “Muslims” and “Islam” are downplayed, as are the finality of “death” and “defeat.” Even the buzz word “justice” doesn’t figure that largely.

Just another way to look past the headlines and dig down behind the text – thanks to multimedia.

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The Death of Osama bin Laden

"Osama bin gotten:" Crowds outside the White House celebrate the death of bin Laden. | Photo Courtesey Flickr user theqspeaks

It has been less than a day since CNN reported that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a Pakistani compound, but the world – and the World Wide Web – is still swirling and stunned. There are countless angles to this story, but let’s see how Politico covered one of the biggest stories of the year and, arguably, the decade.

  • The lead has shifted from the first whispers of the death of the terrorist mastermind from the official announcement by Obama and the aftermath and details of the mission.
  • Also in the lead are collections from slideshows of bin Laden’s life (coincidentally labeled as gallery 666) and celebrations outside the White House of his death.
  • At least 40 articles following the lead are related to bin Laden, including reaction and details. Interesting ones include conspirators who believe he is still alive and the role of Twitterin breaking the shocking news.

    Screenshot the morning following the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death. May 2 2011.

  • The multimedia page includes a dozen videos, starting from Obama’s announcement and including crowd celebration footage and pundit reaction. Politico’s own Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen gave his view as well.
  • Each of the subpages dedicated space to the story, from 44’s White House briefing details to 2012 candidates’ reactions (including Rick Santorum’s statement that Obama is still beatable) to members of Congress questioning US aid to Pakistan. Click highlighted celebrity tweets in response to the news and Arena debated the question: “What’s next for the war on terror?”

All in all, Politico has risen to the challenge of covering this momentous occasion with social and multimedia.

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Page Watch: Click

A screenshot from Politico's "Click," an offbeat political aggregator.

Political media sources tend to be on the serious side, and well they should be. The problems facing our nation are no laughing matter, from budget battles to wars abroad. Yet any heavy issues require a degree of levity and . Enter Politico’s Click, the “premier destination for news and gossip on D.C.’s social scene” and the feature of this chapter of PW’s Page Watch.

 

  • The lead is a multi-photo collage of five of the “The Week In One-Liners,” including White House Adviser David Plouffe, former Florida governor
    Charlie Crist, President Obama, and of course, Donald Trump. 14 articles, each with a large blue headline and image, populate the page beneath.
  • Some of these articles include a video as well, such as a clip from Congressman Dennis Kucinich as a ventriloquist on “The Daily Show.” There’s even a weekly Politico Playback video which has an about two-minute collection from “The Best in Late-Night TV.”
  • Another weekly feature is “By the Numbers,” which highlights some key numerical figures from the week in politics and an accompanying story. For example: “3: The number of days lawmakers had to read the fine print in the compromise cutting $38 billion from the current year’s budget.”
  • The fun continues in the archives under “More Click,” which shows the next 20 articles plus over 340 more pages of material.
  • The right-side of the page has more features, including the top 6 “Most Popular Clicks;” social media tie-ins with the “Tweet of the Moment” and buttons to “Get Your Clicks” on Facebook, Twitter and RSS; “Quick Clicks” with external political links; The Scene with social and cultural events around Washington and a form to submit anonymous tips; and a Click Poll to accompany a chosen story,
All told, “Click” provides a breath of fresh air in the dark, cloudy world of politics and does with a good use of multimedia.
NEXT: THE FINAL OFFICIAL POST OF PW
With the semester coming to an end, an overall review of Politico is on order, though this will not be the end of PW.
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