Big Data

Data: How TV news talks about the election

A real-time data tool developed by business intelligence firm Qlik tracks how major media like CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and Comedy Central talk about the election and the issues voters care about.

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KochPhoto, Getty Images/iStockphoto

"The news isn't there to tell you what happened. It's there to tell you what it wants you to hear or what it thinks you want to hear."

Though the presidential election is on Tuesday, an analysis of television news demonstrates that there is one undisputed media champion: Donald Trump. Since the race began in 2015, Trump has earned, by far, more media mentions than all his primary and general election rivals.

To gauge the role of television news in the campaign, Qlik, a cloud-based business intelligence firm that data visualization tools for the enterprise and SMBs, built several real-time election tracking tools. Since January, 2015 the company's interactive election application tracked major broadcast media—companies like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, and Comedy Central—mentions of presidential candidates.

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Image: Qlik

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool, said Mike Marolda, Senior Manager of Placement Demos, "[helps] identify spikes and troughs of media attention. Most notably, the app verifies that Trump has maintained almost 100% more mentions than Clinton in all broadcast media outlets—raising the question of how fair and neutral the media has been during this historic election, and whether this partiality in coverage will impact the outcome."

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The company connected the application to the Internet Archive's television news database, which collects and aggregates news from major news outlets. "When the election started we didn't know the Trump phenomenon would take off like it did."

Qlik's platform, said Marolda, helps companies better understand markets, and make strategic adjustments based on emerging business industry trends. Company clients range from enterprise giants like Cisco, to non-profits like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

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Image: Qlik

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The tool's strength, he said, is in it's simplicity. "The client-facing application is a simple drag-and-drop interface usable by clients with a variety of technical sophistication," said Marolda. On the backend, the app connects with a variety of data sources. "[The platform] is data-agnostic," he explained. "We provide our own internal database, but also connect to a number of client-supplied databases, as well as Excel, XML, Haystaq, SQL, and the Salesforce and SAP CRMs."

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Prior to the presidential debates, Trump grabbed nearly $1.2 billion in free press, a statistic affirmed by Qlik's accounting of earned media by all major cable television networks. Fox, NBC, and Comedy Central discussed Trump far more than any other candidate, and more than other networks. Al Jazeera America and Bloomberg discussed Trump more than other candidates, but less than other networks.

Bloomberg, CNN, and Fox discussed Clinton more than other media outlets. Bernie Sanders was mentioned more frequently on Al Jazeera America, Bloomberg, and LinkTV. Ted Cruz was the only other candidate to receive a significant amount of major media mentions.

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Image: Qlik

In the aftermath of the three presidential debates, prior to the election, Qlik aggregated and logged how each candidate talked about major issues, world leaders, and global locations. For example, said Marolda, an examination of debate transcripts shows that Clinton used words like "people" and "workers," while Trump used words like "wall," "Obama" and "disaster."

Qlik's tracker uses a word cloud to articulate how each candidate talked about immigration and other major topics. The tag clouds might indicate how the candidate thinks immigration should be handled. Trump fingered outside actors like Mexico, where Clinton focused on individuals.

Qlik provided TechRepublic with a data breakdown of each candidate's debate rhetoric.

On issues, total word mentions:

  • Jobs: Clinton 39, Trump 38
  • Isis: Trump 43, Clinton 20
  • Women: Clinton 36, Trump 17
  • Taxes: Trump 27, Clinton 13
  • Trade: Trump 25, Clinton 12
  • Nuclear: Clinton 22, Trump 17
  • Economy: Clinton 23, Trump 5
  • Emails: Trump 15, Clinton 2
  • Insurance: Clinton 16, Trump 5

On people:

  • Obama: Trump 37, Clinton 15
  • Putin: Trump 15, Clinton 11

On places:

  • Russia: Trump 34, Clinton 10
  • America: Clinton 27, Trump 12
  • Iraq: Trump 21, Clinton 16
  • Iran: Trump 27, Clinton 9
  • Mosul: Trump 26, Clinton 7
  • Syria: Clinton 14, Trump 13
  • China: Trump 15, Clinton 8

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About Dan Patterson

Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.

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