Flashback: Gulf Oil Spill and Rise of ‘the Narrative’ in Politics

The Importance of  Tracking Evolving Narratives

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Gulf Oil Spill Vs. Katrina

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Obama vs. BP

The Lesson of the Gulf Oil Spill narrative is the importance of controlling the narrative, since whoever wins of the narrative, controls the story in terms of political capital – for good or ill.

Austin, TX, June 02, 2010 (Updated May 24, 2014) — In an exclusive analysis by The Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker™, there are now several differing story lines emerging from the Gulf Oil Spill. The ‘narrative’ refers to the stream of public opinion captured by blogs and other social media outlets on the Internet, as well as the leading print and electronic databases.

Colleen Ross:  How Obama Lost Control of the Oil-Spill Narrative (CBC)

The Narratives emerging from this on-going (and slow-moving) disaster include: Obama was Slow to Respond – 95% of the social media conversations characterize the President Obama as ‘slow to respond’. Obama vs. BP: who’s in charge? — 52% see BP in charge of the spill. This may or may not be a political liability. Democrats need the blame assigned to BP; at the same time, Obama needs to be seen as in overall control of the disaster Worst environmental disaster ever – 42% see the current spill the worst environmental disaster ever. Federal Response — 57% see the Federal response using ‘poor’ or related keywords. Not a good month for the Feds; come to think of it, not a good year for the Feds. Katrina vs. Exxon Valdez – 61% make the comparison to the Exxon Valdez; about 39% compare the ongoing spill to the inundation of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

 

Biblical Prophecies Abound Once More — About 61% of all references involve the Bible. (Even Ted Turner has a theory how the oil spill might be a warning from God.) These are markedly different in tone than those used with Katrina where the references focused on apocalyptic imagery, End-of-the-World scenarios and doom. The Obama Style of Leadership – This is a close one 52% see Obama as ‘hand’s on’ leadership, 48% see ‘hand’s off’. Again, this is either positive or negative depending on your political bias.

Clarence Page:  How stories, true or not, drive politics

Ronald Reagan was seen as a ‘hand’s off’ president and that was considered good. Jimmy Carter was a ‘hand’s on’ type president and that was considered bad. “The development of the Gulf Oil Spill narrative is important to track since he who wins control of the narrative, controls the story in terms of political capital – for good or ill,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM. “With the mid-term elections just five months away, and the prospect of the Gulf Oil Spill continuing unabated for months, control of the narrative is more important than ever.” The rise of the narrative can render positions on the issues almost meaningless, since positions now matter less than how they fit into a particular narrative.

The NarrativeTracker is more effective in capturing the true opinion of the public because it tracks unfiltered keywords in Social Media and other sources, rather than how that opinion is interpreted by the news media or by pollsters. The term ‘narrative’ in this sense is now appearing thousands of times in the global media on the Internet and blogosphere as well as throughout the world of social media, meaning the main streams of public opinion running in the media that needs to be fed, encouraged, diverted or influenced by any means possible. GLM recently announced The Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index™ (NTI™), in partnership with OpenConnect Systems of Dallas. The Healthcare NTI is the first product specifically designed to use social media-based monitoring to better understand the issues driving healthcare reform, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. The NarrativeTracker is based on the GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator™ (PQI™).

The PQI tracks the frequency of words and phrases in global print and electronic media on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere and other social media outlets as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted index that factors in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity. About the Global Language Monitor Austin-Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.

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