Case Study 10: Wordle in journalism

18 Apr

Wordle is a unique site that generates word clouds. You can paste your latest column or someone else’s latest story and create a visual display of the words used in the piece. The cool thing is that Wordle will display the most used words in the text in the largest font. Therefore, when looking at the word cloud, it is easy to tell which words played a main role in the work.

For example, as president, Obama has given three State of the Union messages. In his first address in 2010, he repeats words like Americans, people, year, now, America, families, businesses, work, know, knew and time. In his second address, Obama uses words like people, new, make, American, jobs, last, government and years. In the third address, he uses words like American, America, jobs, people, new, years and energy the most. So, we can sense a certain theme in the words he uses most frequently in his State of the Union messages. There are certain prominent words he consistently uses from speech to speech, such as America, people, year and now. But, the vocabulary he uses does change in the speeches. In the first address, his vocabulary is very hopeful and determined. Words like even, continue, many, hard and now create an air of hope and prosperity. In the second message, he uses more words like business, innovation, research and technology. The use of this vocabulary creates a feeling of urgency to be the best and better our country. Here, Obama’s words feel like a parent nagging and pushing their child to be better. The third address contains words like gas, tax, home, working, pay and help. This vocabulary has a more real-world feel. Obama is using words that refer to today’s issues and problems. So, basically, Obama seems more idealistic and hopeful earlier in his addresses but then turns more realistic and focused on today’s problems in his later addresses. This progression and change is made clear by the vocabulary used in his State of the Union addresses.

Wordle is a useful tool because it allows you to pick up on the main message and tone of a work. The vocabulary used plays a large part in creating the overall tone and message. Wordle tells you which vocabulary is used and which words are most prevalent in the writing. It is a really quick, easy way to analyze a passage of writing. In journalism, Wordle could be used to evaluate your own work before publishing it. This way you could see if the tone created by the words you used is what you intended. You could also use it to analyze the stories of others. Perhaps if many have already written about a breaking news story that you are now assigned to write about, you could use Wordle to analyze the word usage in the other stories. That way you could be sure to use different words to ensure that your story is original and stands out.

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One Response to “Case Study 10: Wordle in journalism”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers April 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Good analysis, but your links take me to blank Wordle pages

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