495: national news articles that talked about a ‘hung parliament’ last week
62: percent rise in articles referring to Nick Clegg last week vs the previous 7 days (and 171% higher than the week before that)
These are all numbers taken from journalisted weekly – a statistical analysis of each week’s national print journalism we started a few weeks back (now published every Tuesday).
Partly out of frustration. Everyone talks about ‘what’s in the news’ but this normally equates to ‘what I read a lot about’ or ‘what caught my eye’. Very rarely do you see a factual breakdown of what was actually reported, and what wasn’t.
Partly for the record. It’s important to be able to look back over certain events and see what role journalism played. How well did the papers cover the 2010 election? Who predicted either the importance of the TV debates or the rise of the Lib Dems? (As it happens, Andrew Porter wrote – last December – that they were ‘a gamble’ for Brown and Cameron).
So what does it include?
Well, it’s only natural to start with what’s been covered lots in the press. For this we look at the top 100 subjects written about during the week and cross reference the number of times someone or something has been mentioned with the number of articles in which it has been mentioned. From this we can get a pretty good idea what’s been written about most.
We then look at what hasn’t been covered much. This – as you can probably guess – is rather trickier. Lots and lots doesn’t get covered every week, mostly because it isn’t ‘news’ (or what we understand as news). So we look for discrepancies – like the fact that Alex Salmond of the SNP was written about in 89 articles and Ieuan Wyn Jones of Plaid Cymru in only 4 – and for gaps in public interest reporting (like seeing if there hasn’t been anything on prisons, or social care, or knife crime, for example).
Political ups and downs counts the coverage of party leaders, parties and political policies.
X vs Y offsets coverage of different subjects in order to highlight some of the oddities, contradictions and obsessions of our national press. Such as the 307 articles talking about Wayne Rooney in Easter week, compared to 164 that mentioned Jesus.
Long form journalism started out as an experiment but is proving surprisingly illuminating. We wondered if, based on length of article alone, one could dig out in-depth original journalism. Turns out you can, sort of (provided you filter out the minute-by-minute live coverage of sporting events).
Finally, we pick out one of the week’s most newsworthy topics and point people to journalists – across the national press – that have been covering it extensively.
This was never intended only to be a spectator sport. We hope to kick start more analysis of UK journalism – either through journalisted.com or elsewhere. Journalisted has an API and a full text search, so anyone can do analysis of the press coverage if they want to.
Equally, if you have any suggestions as to how we could improve journalisted weekly, or what other analyses we should add – please do get in touch and let me know. Oh, and you can subscribe to journalisted weekly here.