I think it’s fair to say that Edmonton’s two major dailies have strong stereotypes attached to them. The Edmonton Journal, as the capital region’s newspaper of record, is generally considered reliable, encompassing, and important, with an emphasis on politics and current events. The Edmonton Sun, which has just less than half of the Journal’s weekly circulation (according to data from 2008), is generally considered a bit more tabloid-like, with an emphasis on sports and special sections. But I’m not happy with stereotypes – I like data!
There is obviously much more to a newspaper than its headlines, but I figured that was a good starting point for comparison. Using data extracted from Twitter (which means it may be incomplete) I compared headlines from The Journal and The Sun for January 2010. I counted 662 headlines for The Journal (in blue) and 589 headlines for The Sun (in red).
The most frequently used words in The Journal’s headlines were: Edmonton, Alberta, new, fire, man, woman, Oilers, Calgary, gallery, and police.
The most frequently used words in The Sun’s headlines were: Haiti, Canada, city, man, Canadian, Edmonton, Alberta, Hatian, new, and quake.
Here’s a quick comparison of the average length, average number of words, and average Automated Readability Index (ARI) for each headline:
I’m not sure that calculating the ARI for a headline is valid, but calculating it for the collection of headlines isn’t valid either (because they aren’t equivalent to sentences). I did look at the collection though – The Journal used 865 complex words, whereas The Sun used 552 (a complex word is three syllables or more, as determined using this online tool).
I don’t know what the takeaway is here, but I thought it was interesting enough to share. I’ll probably revisit this again in the future, with additional news sources, and probably some sentiment analysis as well. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments!