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The presidential election. Beyoncé. The NBA playoffs. Prince.
You might wonder what each of these entities have in common, but a scroll through social media or visit to your favorite news outlet can answer that question. Each of the above topics has become ubiquitous to our pop culture landscape … because our, or the media’s, insatiable appetite for reporting the latest developments, updating the narrative and sharing new information via social media.
Oftentimes, it is easy to become overwhelmed by hordes of information – especially if news takes multiple forms and lives in several channels. This tsunami of data can be difficult to comprehend, enveloping you in a confusing blur.
Luckily, if big data are waves, then data visualization tools are your floaties. These tools collect large volumes of information and turn it into easy-to-digest, visual reports – helping you swim through the deluge of information. What could possibly be better than a tool that helps you narrow in on only the most relevant information, aggregate the results into a collective of useful insights and avoid information overload?!
Take legendary singer-songwriter Prince for example. About a month ago, Americans were surprised and saddened to hear Prince had died at the age of 57. At that time, LexisNexis Newsdesk uncovered more than 8,400 articles about Prince were published in the three-and-a-half hours after news of his death broke, and almost one-third of that coverage expressed positive sentiment. It seemed almost everyone was shedding a few purple tears that day.
However, Prince continued to stay in the limelight long after his passing, for a number of reasons. First, we heard accusations of suspicious drug activity. Then, we learned of rumors regarding a Minnesota man who claimed to be Prince’s ”love child” from a fling with his mother in the 1980s. After, lawyers began the long and painful process of trying to settle the recording artist’s estate. Since his death, media monitoring reveals nearly 500,000 news items have been logged about Prince in broadcast, print and online media outlets.
If you were dazed by this sudden burst of data, you weren’t the only one. Quickly visualizing the data helps make sense of the overwhelming volume of information.
Despite the haters trying to bring Prince down, data visualization shows that article sentiment isn’t as negative as some news outlets have led on. While coverage was 29 percent positive, 62 percent neutral and 9 percent negative surrounding his death, sentiment shifted only slightly to 28 percent positive, 60 percent neutral and 12 percent negative.
The media monitoring data pinpoints which channels discussed Prince at the highest volume, and how his media coverage shifted over time. From the data, we can infer the most common way Americans paid tribute to the late legend was by playing his hits on the radio.
There’s no doubt new details about the legendary performer’s life – and death – will come to light as his family and fans continue to grapple with Prince’s passing. With any luck, though, there will be one constant … Prince will always be remembered for his biggest passion: music.