Showing posts with label politics and media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics and media. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Breaking down the downgrade: distilling the message with visualizations and context.

Markets, both domestic and abroad, spent no time to react on the news that Standard & Poor’s, one of the three major companies that rate the solvency of nations, had downgraded the United States credit rating from AAA to AA+.

S&P released its report on the downgrade on Friday, Aug. 6, after American markets were closed. Overseas markets were the first to move, with Japan’s Nikkei index dropping 2.2 percent. A sell-off sent China’s mainland Shanghai market down 2.2 percent. The country’s Hang Seng index flirted with a 7 percent drop before settling down 4.5 percent for the day.

When it came time for America’s markets to open the following Monday, the Dow lost several hundred points in the first hour of trading, and ended down 512 points 4.3 percent. It was the biggest one-day drop since Dec. 1, 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported. It’s among the top 10 biggest one-day DIJA declines ever, the Journal wrote. Crude oil prices also fell amidst concerns about lower demand.

But what does the S&P report actually say? How can we distill and best represent it? The following word cloud identifies dominant words in the document, with the size of a word relating to its presence in the document.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Former Ill. Gov. Edgar on Politicians Molding the Media, Blagojevich Retrial

Former Ill. Gov. Jim Edgar speaks to graduate journalism students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on May 4 about the relationship between politicians and the press, and about the odds that former governor Rod Blagojevich will be found guilty in his corruption retrial.

For those who like to play “what if,” imagine this scenario.

Jim Edgar, the Republican Illinois governor from 1991 to 1999, leaves office with a high approval rating. He’s generally well-respected by the media and the voting public. In 2003, U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald announces he’s not going to run again, which inspires President George Bush to call Edgar and ask him to run for the seat.

Edgar says yes. Despite running in a Blue state, because of his generally positive reputation as governor and center-leaning Republican, he wins the race in a landslide and becomes the next Illinois senator.

That’s not what happened. While Edgar left office with a 60 percent approval rating, and was asked by President Bush to go for the senate seat, Edgar declined.

Instead, Alan Keyes ran against Barack Obama. Keyes had extremely little credibility in Illinois, especially in Chicago, where he had adopted legal residence only just before the election. The race was no contest for Obama, who easily won with 70 percent of the vote. But being the presidential catapult the Illinois senate seat turned out to be, it’s obvious how different American politics could have been if Edgar decided to run.

“I remember a couple of times they tried to get me to run for the senate, and I decided against doing it, and some of the media guys from Chicago said ‘You’re right, we’re a lot nastier than we used to be,’” Edgar said to the small class of University of Illinois graduate journalism students in early May.

He’s now a distinguished fellow of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at the U of I. The position affords him the opportunity to talk to journalism students about the power of media from a very different perspective – a politician dependent on the media to carry a message to the public.