Saturday, April 24, 2010

Don't Know Clouds At All? Read This Blog!

[x YouTube/PJHARV1 Channel]
"Both Sides Now" (1970)
By Joni Mitchell

...I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall.
I really don't know clouds at all....

This blogger introduced tag clouds (aka word clouds) to posts in early 2009 and now, the newest kid on the fishwrap block here in Austin — The Texas Tribune — has gotten into to the cloud-act. Today's online issue of the TX Trib featured a cloud-comparison of the press releases issued by the two gubernatorial candidates: Governor Goodhair (Dumbo) and former Houston mayor Bill White (Donkey). Full disclosure: if Goodhair was on fire, this blogger wouldn't walk across the road to p*ss on 'im. If this is (fair & balanced) cyber-meteorology, so be it.

[x TX Trib]
On The Records: A Cloudy Governor's Race
By Matt Stiles

Tag Cloud of the following article

created at

As Reeve Hamilton wrote today, Gov. Rick Perry's campaign spokesman typically attaches "liberal trial lawyer" to Democratic opponent Bill White, who hasn't worked at a law firm since 1993.

To visualize this rhetorical strategy, we created "word clouds" from the [Perry] campaign's press releases over the last month. The size of the words increase based on the frequency of use, and it's clear that Bill, White, and Liberal are among the most frequently used — as are lawyer and trial.

Click on image to enlarge.

Contrast the Perry campaign's style with that of the White campaign [below], which, BTW, sends far fewer press releases. Perry is there, of course, but White also frequently uses Texas, school, and students — which fits his recent focus on education and the state's dropout rate.

Click on image to enlarge.

Notes: Word clouds are created with, which doesn't factor in the most common prepositions. We also tried to eliminate boilerplate language from press releases, such as the e-mail signatures used by the campaigns. In short, this isn't science, but it does offer a visual sense of how the campaigns are framing the race to reporters. Ω

[Matt Stiles writes about government and politics with a focus on computer-assisted reporting. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, he has a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Arlington.]

Copyright © 2010 The Texas Tribune

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