Top News Stories of 2010 by Internet Ranking

South African World Cup tops iPad Launch and Rise of China;

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US Healthcare Reform & Wikileaks follow

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First time a product launch contends for the top spot; First time a sporting event reaches the top spot

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Austin, TX December 19, 2009 – In an exclusive global analysis performed by the Global Language Monitor, the Top News Stories of 2010 are South African World Cup, the iPad Launch, the Rise of China, US Healthcare Reform, and Wikileaks.  The Tea Party movement, the fall of Obama, the Gulf Oil Spill, Haitian Earthquake, and the Political Anger and Rage witnessed in the major western economies, followed.  The list is notable for two firsts:  the first time a sporting event tops the list and the first time a product launch contends for the top spot.

Chinese Dignitaries
Chinese Dignitaries

“The globe has witnessed the major news sources of the 20th century fragment into thousands of micro-focused outlets in the twenty-first.   At the same time, the major global media are playing an ever-more important role when major events occur, as aggregate communities for shared experiences,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor, the media analytics and trend tracking company.  “For these reasons we performed two independent analyses.  The first focused on the number of citations found over the course of the year on the Internet, blogosphere, and social media sites.  The second focused on the top 75,000 print and electronic media sites.  Finally, the two analyses were normalized with the final results appearing here.”

The Top News Stories of 2010 follow.

Rank/Story/Comment

1.  South African World Cup –  The South African World Cup towered over all other news stories.

2.   iPad – A product launch is the No. 2 worldwide news story!?

3.  Rise of China – Top Story of the First Decade of the 21st century, still very strong.

4.  Health Care Reform – The debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Ac t continues unabated.

5.   Wikileaks – Not a wiki in the usual sense of ‘an open environment which anyone can edit,’ the story of revealed institutional secrets that will continue to resonate well into 2011.

6.  Tea Party – The US political movement which emphasizes scaled back government intrusion, influence and spending.

7.  Fall of Obama – His fall is relative to the great heights to which he ascended.

8.  Gulf Oil Spill – An unprecedented environmental catastrophe broadcast live around the world via the BP Spillcam.

9.  Haitian Earthquake – Hundreds of thousands killed, millions displaced and the agony continues.

10.  Political Anger and Rage – Frustration in the US and  much of the developed world about the financial and political situation.

11.  EU Financial Crisis – The economies of Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain threaten to consume Billions of Euros in bailouts.

12.  Shanghai Expo – The “Grand Gathering of the World Cultures” was visited by some 70 million in 2010.

13.  Growth of Facebook – With 400 million members it now touts itself as the fourth largest nation on the planet.  However, there is no word of UN membership or plans for a standing army.

14.  Pakistan Floods – Garnered more attention worldwide than in the US.

15.  Scott Brown Election – The turnover of the ‘Kennedy seat’ after half a century to this upstart, pickup-driving Republican caused quite a stir.

16.  Tiger Woods – Previously notable for the first golfer to earn a billion dollars, the news of his serial infidelities continues to impact the golf world.

17.  British coalition government — David Cameron and Nick Clegg lead a new coalition into power.

18.  Chilean Miners – The dramatic saga and rescue of Los 33, provided riveting drama (and television) to a world weary of disheartening news.

19.  Polish President Killed — Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and dozens of high government officials died en route to a memorial service honoring the 20,000 Poles who died in the Katyn forest.

20.  Global economic restructuring – Also known as the Great Recession in the US, but felt worldwide especially among developed Western nations.

21.  Vuvuzela –  The brightly colored plastic horns  that caused much consternation at the South African World Cup.

23.  Ground Zero Mosque – Officially known as 45 Park Place, the controversial Islamic center planned a few blocks north of Ground Zero.

24.  Icelandic Volcano – The unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano that disrupted air travel over much of Northern Europe.

25.  Snowmageddon –  The unusually heavy snowfalls that virtually shut down Washington, DC during an exceptionally snowy winter.


Obama’s final narrative: A negative mélange of historic proportions

Read it Where Lawmakers go to Express Their Opinions


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AUSTIN, Texas, November 1, 2010.  The final narrative for President Obama, twenty-four hours before the Mid-term Elections has evolved into a negative mélange of historic proportions.  This was reported by the Global Language Monitor (GLM), which has been tracking the narratives that have dominated the perception of the administration and its handling of both its achievements and crises.

In July, the President’s five most prominent narrative arcs included being out-of-touch or aloof; being responsible for the ever-increasing deficit; not responding with enough vigor or authority to the Gulf Oil Spill; the victory of pushing through Healthcare Reform; and gaining a reputation as a Chicago-style pol.  The President’s Oval Office Address on the Gulf Oil Spill seems to have been the temporal demarcation point between a positive or negative narrative carrying over into the 2010 Mid-term Election.  Since that time there are many who contend that Obama’s narrative has been shaped by forces largely out of his control. And indeed, this may be true.

In the following months no single narrative has risen above the others; on the contrary the five Obama Narratives have largely blended into a largely negative, yet muddled, story line.  The result has been an admixture of these five narratives, resulting in an unfortunate amalgam for the president and his party to overcome.

GLM has also been tracking political buzzwords for the last three election cycles. An analysis of the Top Buzzwords of the Mid-Term Elections completed yesterday, and published in a separate release, lend support to these conclusions.

Below is a list of the Obama narratives that have evolved through the last year.

1.     Obama as out-of-touch or aloof

This has only grown stronger over time.  Professorial has now been added to the mix, which is often considered condescending by certain academic communities.

2.     Obama and the deficit

Words linking Obama to deficit have steadily increased as those linking Bush to the deficit have declined.

3.     Obama and the Oil Spill

The completion of the relief well apparently did not provide the president with relief from the issue.  In fact, the President now has more negative ties to the Katrina inundation of New Orleans than George W. Bush.

4.     Obama as HealthCare Reformer

The president’s signature achievement has been largely avoided by members of his party for fear of the overall negative reception to the program adversely affecting their personal chances of (re-)election.  The mistake is explain away the frustration with how the bill was passed, where many had a first-hand look at congressional (and presidential) wheeling dealing as it best (or worst).

5.     Obama as the Chicago-style pol

This usually conveys the ability to make things happen — though in a stealthy, force-your-hand manner reminiscent of the days of cigar-filled back rooms.  Even this has been undone by the ongoing public perception of Obama’s seeming inability to get things done (in spite of the things he actually did).

GLM has been tracking political language for the last three election cycles   As we have detailed over the last two years, while in the midst of the positive media frenzy of the election and inauguration, we were already finding the elements of anger and outrage as one of the highest on record.    At that time, GLM examined the global print and electronic media for the seven days after the following events:  the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the start of the Iraq War, and the week after the Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and the awarding of the AIG bonuses.

The ranking of ‘outrage’ found in the media was surprising, even startling.

  1. The AIG Bonuses, 2009
  2. The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
  3. Hurricane Katrina and the Inundation of New Orleans, 2005
  4. The start of the Iraq War, 2003

During the last several months our analysis shows that anger and rage largely have been replaced by frustration and disillusionment.In fact, our continuing NarrativeTracker analysis has found what appears to be a major disconnection between what is reported in the media and what is being discussed in Social Media and the rest of Cyberspace.  This includes a number of Media Memes that resonant among the media.

These Media Memes include:

1.     Outrage in the Electorate

To a large extent, the rise of Outrage in the electorate (accompanying the AIG bonuses) was overlooked while the focus was on the ebullience accompanying the Obama election and Inauguration.  Only this year have ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ become a focus — while the citations show that the electorate has moved beyond this Media Meme to ‘disappointment’ and ‘frustration’.

2.     The Great Recession

The electorate makes no distinction between Recession and Great Recession.  In fact, the Great Recession Media Meme is found to be used only in the elite media, while the electorate seems to believe that something far larger is taking (or has taken) place.  The analysis shows the underlying belief to be that that economy has undergone a structural change that will take years to mend, if ever. (They knew this when Bush tried to explain why the US, according to traditional definitions, was not yet in a recession, and again know this as today’s economists try to explain how the Great Recession is now over because we grew 2% in the last fiscal quarter).

3.     The Idea of Insurgency

The consensus is that there are now about one hundred, or fewer, congressional seats in play, which means that some 77% of the seats are basically locked in.  The idea of insurgency makes great headlines (and ensures a plethora of more great headlines as the future unfolds).  But the fact remains that a minimal number of congressional seats are now in play.

4.     The Tea Party

Tea Party ‘members’ have turned out to be older, better educated, and far more influential than their originally portrayal.  If the war in Afghanistan is fighting the last wars (the Surge in Iraq and the Vietnam ‘quagmire’ then viewing the Tea Party as anything other than a grass roots movement, was a mis-reading of the Obama ‘insurgency’ of ’07 and ’08.

5.      The 24-hour News Cycle

The 24-hour news cycle is true only insofar as the headlines constantly shift.  But the deeper currents are a much more prevailing force that apparently actually drive and shape events.  Focusing on the swirling froth of the ever-changing headlines, allows many to miss the structural changes that are occurring below – much like a tsunami is only apparently when the submerged wave finally hits the shoreline.GLM’s Top Political Buzzwords are based on the Narrative Tracker Index. Narrative Tracker is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time. Narrative Tracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

The next report will discuss the list of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2010 Mid-term elections.

To read what the Top Buzzwords Tell Us about the Vote, Part I (The Vetting of the President), go here.

To read about the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2010 Mid-term Elections, go here.

Media:  For more information, please call 1.512.815.8836.

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.

For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email editor@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com

Top Political Buzzwords: Negative Narrative Entangles President and His Party

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.Top Political Buzzwords Six Weeks Out

. Narrative Tracking-based Election Forecast:

..Opposite of 2008

..Hillary Clinton Ascendant as No. 8

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AUSTIN, Texas, September 24, 2010. The Global Language Monitor (GLM) today announced that the Top Buzzwords of the Mid-term Elections portray a strongly negative narrative that has increasingly entangled the president and his party with six weeks remaining before the Mid-term elections. The Top Ten Buzzwords include Narrative, Lower Taxes, Obama as a Muslim, Conservative, Climate Change, Liberal, Recession (linked to Obama), Hillary Clinton related to Obama, Tea Partiers, and Obama as Aloof, Detached, or Professorial.

These are a dramatic departure from the top buzzwords immediately preceding the 2008 Presidential election where the Top Buzzword was Change, blame for the recession was clearly assigned to George W. Bush, Raising Taxes was No. 27, and the Surge was still a Top Ten issue as was the price of gasoline. Obamamania was the No. 3 Word of 2008 (after Change and Bailout); Obamamania now stands at No. 63. One consistency: Nuclear Iran was No. 31; now Nuclear Iran is No. 33.

Austin-based Global Language Monitor has been analyzing political buzzwords since the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003.

“The Top Political Buzzwords reflect a strongly negative narrative that the president and his party have six weeks to overcome,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “Typically an opinion swing of this magnitude can be directly attributable to outside events, not of one’s personal doing.”

Election Forecast:  In an additional analysis, the Global Language Monitor has forecast the results of the Mid-term Elections based on the number of citations received, relating to Liberal/Progressive, Conservative  and Independent labels.  Liberal and Progressives were measured together and separately.  Based on the analysis concluded earlier this week, the results are projected to largely inversely mirror the results of 2008, where Obama won some 53% of the vote to McCain’s 46% with 1% other.  With the Independents splitting evenly or slightly in favor of the Republicans, the 2010 results would range from 53% to 56% Republicans to 44% to 47% for the Democrats.  Of course there are still six weeks before the election with game-altering ‘October Surprises’ a very real possibility.

Some seventy political buzzwords were tracked; the analysis was concluded on September 22, 2010.

The Top Political Buzzwords Six Weeks Out include:

1.  Narrative  – Idea of the narrative is a strong No. 1

2.  Lower Taxes – 600% higher than Raise Taxes (No. 10)

3.  Obama Muslim Connection - Two weeks before 2008 Election it was No . 6

4.  Conservatives – Stand at 43% of sample citations

5.  Climate Change – Always one of Top 5

6.  Liberal - Liberal/Progressives stand at 33% of Citations

7.  Recession (linked to Obama) – Over 4x the number that link to GWB (No.20)

8.  Hillary Clinton – Hillary Ascendant

9.  Tea Partiers – Very strong for a recent phenomenon

10. Obama Aloof, detached, Professorial – Reached peak in reaction to his handling the Gulf Oil Spill

11. Raise Taxes – Only 16% of lower taxes (No. 2)

12. Progressive – 74% of Liberal citations; Liberal/Progressives stand at 33% of Citations

13. Deficit Spending – Close to Out-of-Control Spending (No.15)

14. Independents – Independents stand at 20% of citations

15. Out-of-control Spending — Spending is widely viewed as out-of-control

16. Sarah Palin – Apparently, opposition only makes her stronger

17. Healthcare Mandate – Nearly triple the concern for HC Reform (No. 21)

18. Change you can believe in – Not so much, these days

19. Iraq War – Far from top of Mind

20. Recession (linked to Bush) – Warning to Dems, this is fading from view

21. Healthcare reform – Comes in just a bit higher than the Gulf Oil Spill

22. BP Gulf Oil Spill —  The BP SpillCam was the No. 1 Television Word (Teleword) of the Year

23. Anti-incumbent — It’s not just a matter of anger; lower than pundits have it

24.  Obama “oil spill” response — Major factor in negativity of overall narrative

25. Al Qaeda – Low ranking reflected by several polls, also

26. George Bush — Not much value in running a ‘Not Bush’ Campaign

27.  Wall Street Bailout – Bush, Bailout, Pelosi and Limbaugh, Cheney (and Reid) line up closely

28.  Grand Zero Mosque – More than 110 times the number of citations for 51 Park Place

29. Nancy Pelosi — Off the radar nowadays

30. Rush Limbaugh – Interesting pairing at Nos, 29 and 30, no?

Other highlights include:

· Afghanistan stands at No. 37

· Obama is now linked to Katrina more often than Bush

· Transparency now stands at No. 43

· Birther seems to receive much more media than deserved (No. 49)

· Sarah Palin’s malapropism Refudiate is No. 55

· Shovel Ready is down to No. 64.

Top Political Buzzwords of Past Elections

  • The Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Elections included: Change, Climate Change, the price of Gasoline, Recession, Experience, and Obama as a Muslim
  • The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included: Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency
  • The Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Elections included: Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

About Narrative Tracker

The Narrative Tracker is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

NTI by its very nature is non-biased. When we take a statistical snapshot there is no adjustment for ‘underrepresented’ groups, there are no assumptions about probability of turnout, the proportions of newly registered voters, traditional models, or expanded modularity’s. In other words, it is what it is.


Obama Narrative 2.0

Out-of-touch moves into No. 1 position over Deficit Spending; Oil Spill tops Health Care Reformer

Austin, Texas, July 24, 2010 – As the political calendar inexorably heads toward the Mid-term elections, the focus on President Obama’s competing ‘narratives’ continue to play out in the media.

Since his Oval Address on the Oil Spill, Obama’s personal narrative is being shaped by forces largely out of his control, such as the on-going Gulf drama.  These are how the five most prevalent competing narratives compare, according to Austin-based Global Language Monitor (GLM).  GLM has been monitoring the language of politics since 2003.

The ranking of the President’s five most prominent narrative arcs include:

  1. Obama as out-of-touch or aloof – This is up 1200% since the beginning of the year; this is the converse of Hope and Change.
  2. Obama and the deficit — Words linking Obama to deficit have increased some 2500% since the beginning of 2010.
  3. Obama and the Oil Spill — A very fast mover now ahead of Obama as Health Care reformer.  Could the completion of the relief well turn this around?
  4. Obama as HealthCare Reformer –   Losing steam quickly for the president’s signature achievement.
  5. Obama as the Chicago-style pol — A continued, steady rise in linking Obama to old-style Chicago politics.

“At this point, all five narratives in play are problematic for the president,” said Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s president and chief word analyst. “With the Mid-terms some hundred days away, the president needs a series of (possibly unexpected) positive events to stem this tide.”

Obama Narrative 2.0, the underlying storyline that will largely define the president in the run-up to the Mid-term elections and, possibly, for time remaining in his term.   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.

The NarrativeTracker Index  (NTI), the first product specifically designed to use social media-based monitoring to better understand the issues driving any particular topic. Because the NTI is based on the national discourse, it provides a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time. In addition to the NTI, the Narrative Tracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the opinions surrounding a single issue.

NTI tracks the ‘narrative’ of a subject, as well as projecting future trajectories for the narrative.    The result has several advantages over traditional polls:  1) Immediacy; 2) The lack of any bias that tends to creep into traditional polling, e.g., when individuals answer questions with what they think are the ‘correct’ answers rather than their true opinions; and 3) NTI lets policy and decision makers focus on the true issues driving perceptions and concerns rather than being driven by false and phantom concepts.  In addition, the Narrative Tracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative.

NTI 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 NTI 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.


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Air Date: Week of July 2, 2010
The BP oil disaster is a failure of technology and lexicology. The words that we use to describe the Gulf of Mexico disaster don’t begin to define the scope of the catastrophe. Is it a spill? A gusher? Host Jeff Young tracks the flow of words with Paul Payak from the Global Language Monitor.
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YOUNG: Millions – maybe billions – of words have been written about BP’s runaway oil well. Yet words still fail us—we still lack the right term for what’s happening in the Gulf. So we turn to Paul JJ Payack for guidance. He’s President of the Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas, where he tracks changes in the language, including the words most often used to describe the oil in the Gulf.PAYACK: Overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, the top word is oil spill, which is sort of a disappointment. Many times when you have new events in a language, the language leads the event. You can actually… there are new words that pop up in profusion.YOUNG: Uh huh.

PAYACK: And, in this case, we haven’t seen that many new words. What we’ve seen is the old way to describe an oil spill. The Exxon Valdez has a crash, spills the oil out, and that’s a spill. But this is different; this is a lot different than a spill.

YOUNG: Because a spill connotes a fixed amount that spilled from a container into where you don’t want it. That’s not what’s happening here at all.

PAYACK: In our case, we’re not talking about a spill, we’re talking about an oil field that’s estimated at 3, 4, 5 billion barrels erupting, but we still refer to it as a spill.

Read More


The Internet’s Fury Scorned

Obama Oval Office speech analysis provokes unprecedented response


Austin, Texas, July 2, 2010.  The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed a great many terrible, sad and historical events, with a few, unfortunately fleeting moments of great joy sprinkled between the dirges.  We have done our best to analyze the impact of these events on the global print and electronic media as well as on the Internet, throughout the blogosphere, and now the emerging social media.

After analyzing political speeches for a decade now, as well as all 55 Presidential Inaugural Addresses and transcripts of historical interest (including Washington’s Farewell Address, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, FDR’s ‘Live in Infamy’ radio address, Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech) you would think that we had seen and heard everything by now.

However, it wasn’t until our analysis of the President’s Gulf Spill Oval Office address, that we experienced the full force of the Internet’s fury scorned.

And this for an analysis that we considered basically non-newsworthy.

President Obama had given yet another address to the nation.  GLM used the same standardized, widely available, language tools that we used to name Obama’s Grant Park  “Yes, we can!” victory address as one that ranked with the greatest of presidential orations.  Now these same standardized, time-tested tools are being conveniently criticized as of questionable repute.

We were told that our analysis was either ‘bashing Obama’ or ‘excusing Obama’. At the same time, we were either ‘insulting the people’ or ‘insulting the President’. Finally, it was suggested that we were rather transparently calling for the President to ‘dumb down the rhetoric’ so that one and all might understand  the superior intelligence of ‘his highness’.  Whoa!

Apparently, many readers never got over the headline, missing the actual analysis and what the numbers told us about the speech. Our concern was that our initial headline, Obama Oil Spill Speech Echoes Elite, Aloof Ethos might be considered demeaning to the President.  Wrong.  It was considered demeaning to everyone on the Left and the Right.

For general information on the readability tests used by GLM, click here.

For scientific literature about readability tests, enter Flesch or readability into the ERIC database.

We were surprised to learn that offense was, apparently,  taken in equal proportions by both the Right (Language Expert: If You Didn’t Like Obama’s Oil Spill Speech, It’s Probably Because You’re Stupid) and the Left (Obama Oil Spill Speech Criticized By CNN’s Language Analyst For Not Being Moronic Enough) of the political spectrum.   Nevertheless, we were quite amused by The ColbertReport’s send-up of our (and CNN’s) report, which somehow struck a middle chord.

It was also enlightening to see a significant proportion of this criticism to be ad hominem attacks, focusing on ourselves rather than our analysis.  (Read FAQ about GLM and Paul JJ Payack here.)

This past December, we encountered fierce criticism from the Chinese government dailies because  we named ‘The Rise of China” as the No. 1 news story of the decade.  (You can follow the narrative arc of this controversy here. )  But the criticism that accompanied the Obama Gulf Spill speech, was a good bit nastier, indeed.

Our analyses of the three preceding US Presidential elections were praised from many quarters from the New York Times to Nicholas Kristof to NPR to the worldwide media.  During the preceding ten years, few alleged political motivation, or denounced the standard language-measurement tools as inherently flawed. In fact, as long as readers basically agreed with the more predictable outcomes, there were few complaints.  Here were some of those results:  Ross Perot scored the lowest we’ve ever recorded, John F, Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were stars, both Bushes settled in the middle of the middle school years, and Obama’s ‘Yes, we can!’ speech had nearly equivalent numbers to Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream’ speech and Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’.   So far, so good.  We did have a few outliers, such as Sarah Palin achieving quite a high score during her debate with Joe Biden, which was duly noted by New York Magazine and quite easy to explain.

Here’s what we attempted to communicate:

1.  Obama’s speech, though deserving a ‘solid B’ did not live up to his past efforts.

2.  Obama’s most well-regarded speech came in a at 7.4 grade level.  This is not talking down to the American people.  This is communicating clear and concisely to his audience.  This is Obama at his best, communicating with a deft combination of vision, passion and rhetoric.

In fact, our headline for that effort read: Obama’s “Yes, We Can” Speech Ranked with “I have a Dream,” “Tear Down this Wall,” and JFK Inaugural. Rather high praise, indeed.

Our commentary read:

Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech delivered Tuesday night in Chicago’s Grant Park ranked favorably in tone, tenor and rhetorical flourishes with memorable political addresses of the recent past including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s   “I have a Dream” speech, “Tear Down this Wall,” by Ronald  Reagan and John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.

“As is appropriate for a forward-looking message of hope and reconciliation, words of change and hope, as well as future-related constructions dominated the address,” said Paul JJ Payack President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.  “Evidently, Obama is at his best at connecting with people at the 7th to 8th grade range, communicating directly to his audience using simple yet powerful rhetorical devices, such as the repetition of the cadenced phrase ‘Yes, we can’, which built to a powerful conclusion.”

Well-regarded, indeed (and well-deserved).

3.   GLM and our predecessor site, yourDictionary.com have analyzed every presidential inaugural since that of George Washington.  The idea was, and continues to be, to look at the presidents’ words in the total historical context of the American presidency.

In 2001, we were quoted as saying,

Our goal was to spot trends that are all to easily overlooked in the political (and all too partisan) passions of the moment” [and continued that our] analysis included patterns of word usage choices, the use of such grammatical constructions as passive voice, the length of words and sentences, the number of paragraphs, and other parameters of language to gauge the content [including] the well-regarded Flesch-Kincaid Reading Scale.

4.  The use of Industry-standard language analytics.  The Fogg Index, the Flesch Test, the Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Scale, and many others, are used in all forms of publishing from technical manuals to ensuring proper comprehension levels for textbooks used for various ages and classes.  This has been true for more than fifty years.

The reason we choose to use the standard tests and analytical tools was a simple one:  to enable the same set of measurements over any period of time.  And also that these analyses could be replicated by scholars and historians and journalists the world over.

5.  We use our proprietary tool, the Predictive Quantities Indicator or PQI to measure media analytics, narrative tracking, and TrendTopper Media Buzz, as such we do not use the PQI for this task.

By the Way, here are a few historical precedents;

  • Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796 — 12.0.
  • Lincoln-Douglas debates, 1858 — Stephen Douglas’ seven speeches averaged a 12th-grade level 11.9; Lincoln’s averaged 11.2.
  • President Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration of war in December 1941 — 11.5.
  • Nixon-Kennedy Debates, 1960 — The first nationally televised debates:  Kennedy, 9.6 ; Nixon, 9.1.
  • Carter-Ford Debates, 1976 — Carter, 10.4; Ford, 11.0.
  • Carter-Reagan debate  – Carter, 12.0; Reagan, 10.7.
  • Reagan-Mondale debates — Reagan, 9.8;  Mondale, 8.7.
  • Dukakis-Bush debates of 1988 — Dukakis, 8.9; Bush, 6.7 grade.
  • Bush-Clinton-Perot debates of 1992 — Carter, 8.5, Bush, 6.5, Perot, 6.3.
  • Bush-Gore debate of 2000 — Bush, 7.1, Gore, 8.4.
  • Cheney-Lieberman, V.P. Debate — Lieberman, 9.9; Dick Cheney, 9.1.

And for good measure, Hamlet’s ‘To Be or Not to Be Soliloquy’, Shakespeare, c. 1600, comes in at 10.6.

Now Kathleen Parker has considerably upped the ante when applied readability statistics in her premise about Barack Obama as the first ‘feminine president’ ….

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Tracking the Gulf Oil Spill Narrative


Obama vs. BP, Exxon Valdez vs. Katrina, Biblical Prophesies, etc.

The development of the Gulf Oil Spill narrative is important since he who wins control of the narrative, controls      the story in terms of political capital – for good or ill.

Austin, TX, June 02, 2010 — 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 othersocial media outlets on the Internet, as well as the leading print and electronic databases.

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. 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.


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