You Are What You Say: Democrats and Republicans in Blue and Red

Our latest podcast is called “How Biased Is Your Media?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes or get the RSS feed.)

It includes an interview with University of Chicago economist Matthew Gentzkow, who discusses a study he coauthored with Jesse Shapiro about newspaper bias. They used a sample of 433 newspapers and sorted the phrases favored by Congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Here, in visual form using Wordle, are the Democrats’ favorite words:

And the Republicans’ favorites:


Unless I'm missing it, where abortion on either list. Surely that falls in the top 50.

Al McDermid

Well, I took the Tim Groseclose PQ and I have to say that it not very impressive. I scored a 86.6 (or 92.5; the page reloaded and gave me this second result), which I can see is accurate for the questions it asked, but the range of the questions is so narrow, I doubt its value. In fact, I'm wondering if the entire exercise wasn't designed to prove his thesis of media bias, because, I'm quite obviously a liberal and I don't see it (expect where it's explicitly so, e.g. truthdig). In fact, my main news sources are the Economist and New York Times, and relative to this papers, I find the idea of a liberal bias seriously laughable.

Joe J

Reminds me about a similar study of OWS posters, where the word counts were tallied. The most used words If I remember right were: Debt, student, college, and loans.
Which was a bit counter to the claim that they were there actually complaining about bank bailouts.


I think a Pareto chart would've provide a much more interpretable graphical presentation than this "wordle" graphic. Aside from being cute, why would one want to use this graphic?