Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

How the Media Treated Mexico's Mass Murder

Last week, 50-some people were murdered in the torching of a building in Mexico, in Monterrey. (People were trapped in the casino after gunmen stormed the building; they were ordered out but many panicked and ran to the second floor.) Here's a look at the amount of front-page web real estate given to the event by English-speaking news organizations, as expressed in the formula of pixel-per-victim. (What the analysis doesn't take into account is the depth or complexity of coverage, and also the amount of play, as measured in time, of that coverage.) For instance, the Times gave up 0.27% of its digital "front page," though it should be noted that even that small amount of real estate has lots of value in itself and also that's multiplied if it was up for several hours, as opposed to several minutes. The tools by which we measure news "attention" online are very much still in development. (via)

7 Comments / Post A Comment

saythatscool (#101)

We should get some Mexicans to help us with these tools. I've noticed that my gardener is quite good with his hands.

Really, it should be pixel-seconds per victim, time spent on front page should matter. Maybe pixel-minutes or pixel-hours would be easier to understand, but seconds are the SI unit, after all.

Even then it wouldn't be accurate, because the higher a pixel is placed on the website, the more it matters. If it's just a note at the bottom of the page, it doesn't matter nearly as much as if it's scrawled over the top, even if the pixel count is the same. You'd have to normalize it somehow, to make up for that fact.

So here then, is my new unit of web-news attention: normalized pixel-seconds per victim, also known as the oskar. So, if 50 people were killed, and a note measuring 300 by 700 pixels was posted about it, and it stayed up for 24 hours (and we forget the normalization for a second), that's almost exactly 363 megaoskars. If one defines the oskar as normalized pixel-hour / Victim, it's almost exactly 1 megaoskar (1.008 megaoskars). We might have to consider making the scale logarithmic, because the numbers do shoot up very quickly.

@Oskar Sigvardsson@twitter I really liked your idea. In the spreadsheet I recorded whether the note was below or above the fold, but that's not a good metric because it depends on the screen resolution. Perhaps a way to deal with the position on the y-axis could be just calculating it's distance to the top of the screen.

johnpseudonym (#1,452)

I blame the illegal immigrants tending the media's front pages. Kick them back to their own countries and give the jobs to American workers.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

perhaps it's because Rupert Murdoch and Jim Walton are afraid of waking up with a severed horse head in their bed. ARIANNA = UNFLAPPABLE

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Art Yucko It's true, I tried to flap her once and she wasn't having it.

deepomega (#1,720)

I prefer links-shared-per-hour.

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