Do Words Matter: Visualising Historical Policy and Media Narratives around Opportunity and Disadvantage in Australia
Sarah Goodwin, Simon D Angus, Lachlan O'Neill, Nancy Van Nieuwenhove, Ben Wu, Yingqi Zhang, Tim Dwyer
2023-10-23T03:00:00ZGMT-0600Change your timezone on the schedule page
Despite the widely held belief that public discourse shapes and informs public policy, tracking and analysing the dynamics of public discourse over long time-frames remains a significant challenge. Myriad factors such as editorial policies, news sensationalism, election cycles, societal priorities, and political agendas can all impact the attention given, and treatment of, a range of important societal issues such as systematic disadvantage. Here, we introduce and describe `Discourse of the Past', an interactive visualisation created for both public touch-screen exhibition and online. The visualisation presents an AI-assisted analysis of hundreds of thousands of op-ed news articles and speeches from the major Australian mastheads and federal parliament respectively. By focusing on 23 population groups and 33 issues, we provide a rich, dynamic picture of how disadvantage is experienced in Australia and by whom. Users can discover a series of findings, such as: how News and Parliament have their own agenda and how each changes its focus over time; how some issues are more recurrent than others; how coverage and discourse intensity change relative to cycles and events; and how both discourses contribute to a better understanding of how disadvantage is lived in Australia.