Thursday, August 6, 2009

Big news stories in the 2008 elections -- Looking for you input

I have a ~10 minute favor to ask. It has to do with timelines again*.

I've pulled a list of the top ~200 events from the run-up to last year's presidential elections. (Download it here as an .xlsx file, here as an .xls file, and here as a .txt file) Sometime when you weren't doing anything anyway (e.g. facebook), skim through the list and pick the top 20 or so events that you think were the biggest stories* in the campaign. If there are important stories that you think are missing, you can add them.

When you're done, post your results in the comments section. Here are the rules:
  • By "big news stories," I mean events that did at least one of three things: 1) generated a lot of media buzz, 2) affected public opinion, or 3) evoked a strong response from the campaigns themselves. Any combination of these things qualifies as a news story.
  • Don't do any background research and don't ask anybody else for their opinion. I'm just looking for a gut check on which events were the most important.
  • Don't worry if you aren't a big-time pundit. I'm not either, and they're mostly bluffing anyway.
  • And don't don't don't read other peoples' responses before you post your own -- this will be much more useful and interesting if everyone's ideas are independent.
I'm going to use these responses (anonymously) at a conference coming up in a few weeks. Once the conference is over I'll post some diagnostics and results here so you can see how your intuition stacks up against the wisdom of the crowd.

Like I said, this should only take about 10 minutes or so. Thanks for being part of a convenience sample of the willing!

Some background:
I'm working on a research project using automated content analysis to identify big news stories in archives of media content. The 2008 presidential election is my test case. Basically, I'm throwing a lot of text at the computer and using tricks from computational linguistics to tease out the news stories. It would be neat to be able to do this because 1) news stories are a big part of the way we think about politics, 2) this would make it possible to identify news stories in a replicable way on a grand scale, and 3) complicated algorithms are cool.

Your answers will help me construct a baseline to check how well the algorithm is doing. If the computer finds events that are broadly consistent with human intuition, that's a good sign that it's working. Thanks again for your help.


*PS on my previous post: Chronologic turned out harder than I initially thought! I'm working on ways to weed out some of the ridiculously obscure cards.)

7 comments:

Dave said...

ID
18
47
56
81
88
95
97
100
109
110
112
115
116
133
134
139
158
167
170
172
175
178
181
185
191


I came up with 25 events that met one or more of the three critiera.

I hope this is the for you want the results posted in.

Sherry said...

9
17
19
22
56
80
87
88
111
112
133
135
150
158
164
170
172
191
That's about 20.

Rob said...

ID
74
85
97
103
115
123
126
143
155
158
164
167
172
178
179
180
181
182
183
191

James said...

47
48
81
84
85
86
88
94
95
100
103
104
109
111
115
118
133
136
147
158
167
170
172
178

Erin said...

I probably would have included more of the early primary debates, but I wasn't sure which was which based on the city. Hope this helps!

72
74
80
86
97
100
115
123
129
133
139
143
144
158
164
172
178
180
181
182
183
185
191

Buzzy said...

8
9
32
64
72
81
83
94
97
100
112
115
116
133
158
167
170
172
174
191

Abe said...

Thanks to everyone who posted lists. I'm working on the paper now and will get back to you in a couple weeks with results.