Measuring opinion across media

A recent Pew Research Center study argued that social media and traditional press reacted to the Democratic and Republican conventions differently. However, the fine print showed that humans decided the tone of the traditional media stories while the Center relied on automated sentiment analysis which isn’t always right and in fact can be wrong most of the time.

However, the study touched on the notion that the type of posts and commentary are different on social media vs. traditional media. For instance, the Obama campaign insisted that he won because he lied while traditional news simply said that Romney won among undecided voters.

On Twitter, with the help of live fact-checking by organizations like the NY Times, users were informed that a number of things Mitt Romney said were not true. Difference in sentiments about the candidates is absolutely affected by if those surveyed were given truthful information.

On the topic of the conventions, many were reacting positively to Bill Clinton’s speech on Twitter while some on Fox News were unsurprisingly critical of it

On the Republican side, many on Twitter enjoyed Paul Ryan’s speech, but after talk, many criticized Ryan or lying. Even regularly conservative mouthpiece Fox News (which another study found makes people less informed than those who watch no news) published an article saying

On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.

So, in the end the study shows not a whole not of anything definitive. People who get their news on Twitter can have opinions of candidates or conventions which aren’t based on fact just as easily as those who get it via more traditional means.

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About Geoff Campbell

Geoff Campbell is the Digital and Social Media Specialist at Friends' Central School.


  1. Thanks.
    By that sentence I was saying that sentiment analysis is often flawed, as evidence by the two links in the sentence. My conclusion was that they were probably more accurate in determining the tone of news articles because people actually read them, as opposed to using a faulty algorithm to effectively guess at what the tone of comments were on Twitter and Facebook.

    For that sentence I fixed the error. I have gotten very used to blogging shorthand (linking to quoted material).

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