M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter

Can you scientifically quantify social media opinion?

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Over at NBCNews.com, we’ve started publishing daily charts tracking what people are saying about the presidential and vice presidential candidates on Twitter and Facebook. Here’s today’s for the weekend (click here for the full-size version):

Full social media chart Aug 26 2012

In my analysis, I write:

In recent weeks, Obama has generally led Romney by two to seven percentage points in national polls, which carefully select their samples to reflect Americans most engaged in the election and registered to vote.

The picture is different among Americans who have gone online to talk about the election, however — NBCPolitics.com’s analysis indicates that that narrower but more diverse sample of the country prefers Romney by 36 percent to 32 percent overall and by 51 percent to 49 percent when they’re compared head to head:

'Intent to vote' sentiment Aug 26 2012

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Language curmudgeons: the next generation

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Over at msnbc.com, I recently chronicled the announcement that the Queen’s English Society is disbanding after 40 years of fighting to preserve the language in amber against the impurities of modern speech and Twitterese.

In the spirit of fairness, I wanted to point you to this gloriously dyspeptic objection in defense of the society and of “proper” English by Brendan O’Neill, the editor of Spiked, an author whom I admire.

I vigorously disagree with O’Neill here, but I get a big kick out of his precocious curmudgeonry. It’s worth a read.

And from the archives, here’s an explanation of why I write the way I write, for those of you who may wonder why I disagree when my own writing seems so formal.

Written by Alex

June 10, 2012 at 8:40 am

‘Alternative story telling’? No — just telling the story

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Sometimes reporting, editing and producing a breaking news story can be frustrating, because two new developments land on your doorstep before the last one has made it through the production process.

That’s what happened when a gunman entered a real estate office in Valparaiso, Ind., today and took about 10 hostages.  So in parallel with writing msnbc.com’s running main story, which you can read here, I also set up a Storify stream, immediately publishing news, images and local reaction as they came in. By the end of the day, it was a lively, largely unintermediated narrative of the entire drama as it unfolded:

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Written by Alex

May 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

In re the frumious beer bet

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Update [May 9, 8:10 p.m. ET]: Now you can even buy a Bandersnatch Cummerbund T-shirt.

Original post: I worked there seven years, but it took this to finally get my name in The Washington Post.

In re Bandersnatch Cummerbund controversy (Lisa de Moraes/The Washington Post)

Written by Alex

May 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Surprise! People are sophisticated

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Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET: Over at msnbc.com, I have a piece looking at how people have followed the Trayvon Martin case online. This is one of the projects we’re doing with Crimson Hexagon’s Forsight social media tools, which are explained in this post.

Although you might get the impression from news coverage of the case that the American public wants George Zimmerman’s head on a stake, what the American public has been saying on Twitter and Facebook and in online forums is much more nuanced.

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Hack or no hack?

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Over at msnbc.com, I’m tracking the attack on the CIA’s website, allegedly by Anonymous.

There’s an interesting language issue here. Several major news organizations are reporting that Anonymous “hacked” the CIA. Maybe; maybe not. The CIA isn’t commenting.

Initially, it appeared that a straightforward DDoS flood knocked out cia.gov. That’s not a “hack,” which implies some sort of infiltration of the host or its servers. It’s an attack from outside.

(You can read the Wikipedia definition for DDoS here.)

As of this writing, the site has been down more than four hours, which is an unusually long time for a robust agency to recover from a DDoS attack. That raises the possibility that the site remains down for some other reason. It could be some other kind of penetrating operation, which you could call a hack. Or it could yet have been a DDoS assault, and the CIA may be keeping the site down while it investigates and scrubs it for security holes. Not a hack.

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Written by Alex

February 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Anatomy of a walkback

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Over at msnbc.com, I’ve posted an update on Benjamin Colton Barnes, the former Army private believed to have shot Park Ranger Margaret Anderson in Mount Rainier National Park over the weekend.

Here’s the key passage:

In July, the mother of Barnes’ young daughter said in court papers seeking a protection order that he “has possible PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) issues.” News organizations — including msnbc.com— noted the court filings and reported that Lewis-McChord is considered one of the most troubled bases in the U.S. military, with an alarming record of violent incidents and suicides among veterans returning from Iraq.

But as more has been learned about Barnes, it appears that his troubles may have had little to do with his service in Iraq or his having been stationed at Lewis-McChord.

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Written by Alex

January 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm

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