How Israel Folau coverage differs by publisher

What is the Israel Folau story most about? Religious freedom? Homophobia? Political correctness?

Your answer will no doubt be influenced by your personal beliefs and values, but also potentially which news sources you read.

As an experiment in media data visualisation, Streem partnered with Small Multiples to examine coverage of Folau’s case by different online publishers.

First, we counted the number of stories major mastheads had published about Folau since his April 10 Instagram post, and calculated the percentage of mainstream online coverage that they represented.

Then we searched the 2772 total stories for references to various entities and themes, from Rugby Australia and GoFundMe to ‘freedom of speech’.

We could then look at how frequently each publisher used these terms, and what percentage of their overall coverage it appeared in.

By comparing the publishers against each other, we could tell which publishers were more focused on which areas.

The following charts display the results. The inner circle on each diagram represents the average proportion of coverage for that topic. If a masthead’s value is inside the inner circle, it covered that element less frequently than average. If it’s outside the inner circle, it covered it more frequently.

For something like Rugby Australia, which is Folau’s employer, most publishers are close to the average.

Other terms are more likely to show varied results. Here you can see The Australian is more likely to focus on freedom of speech than average, while Wide World of Sports if less likely to. So too The Guardian.

Here are the rest of the images.

Now that we have a working version of this analysis operational, it is something we expect to replicate more regularly in future around big issues and even, gulp, politics. Stay tuned.

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