Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.


Fighting Words

Screenshot from the Fighting Words project

This week at work we launched Fighting Words, an experimental effort to track the use of certain keywords on the campaign trail this fall. NPR editors have identified about 40 political figures to track — Democrats and Republicans, active candidates and political “influencers.” Our system then periodically scans their Facebook, Twitter and website RSS feeds for matches against a predefined list of keywords (and synonyms).

We noticed an interesting trend in our pool for the keyword “jobs” after
yesterday’s jobs report from the Labor Department:

It’s the Republicans, so far, who want to point to the weak job growth and say it’s evidence that Democratic economic policies aren’t working. The Democrats in our database, as of this hour, aren’t saying much.

One of my favorite features displays the most popular keywords in the last seven days among the various types of politicos we’re following. It’s a little quieter on the weekend, but during the week, this can change even over the course of a single day. As of 45 minutes ago, “Tea Party” was on the upswing with Democrats; “jobs” with Republicans and candidates; and “Pelosi” with influencers.

Our team for this project:
Editors: Erica Ryan and Mark Memmott
Developer: Chris Schetter
Photo editors: Abby Verbosky and Jennifer Noll
Project Manager: Kim Perry

Explore the Project »