I’ve thought a bit more about the bias revealed in the analysis below in which it was shown that the official ABC sport news twitter handle reports more stories about AFL than NRL. While this quantitative analysis has revealed something meaningful about the bias in sport reporting, it might be even more useful to look closely at the content of the tweets to see if the ABC’s tweets about the AFL are not only more frequent, but also more positive.
So, I’ve written this code which parses the tweets into words and then plots the frequency of the most used words (I restricted the plot to avoid the most commonly used words such as ‘and’, ‘the’, etc).
This is the result for @abcgrandstand’s tweets about the AFL:
And this is the result for @abcgrandstand’s tweets about the NRL:
You can see that really a lot is very similar. There are words the occur frequently in both lists that would crop up in the reporting of any sport event on the planet such as ”sports”, “win”, “live” and “lead”.
But there are two interesting differences: The AFL related tweets have “Melbourne” as a frequently occurring word and the NRL related tweets have “Sydney” as a frequently occurring word. So, despite the efforts of both codes to cross state boundaries, there is still some dissociation between the NRL and its following in Sydney and the AFL in Melbourne.
The other interesting difference is that one of the frequently occurring words in the NRL (but not the AFL) is “action”. Which just goes to show, no matter what, rugby just has more action than AFL.