about this sitesee Meranda's resumesee clips and work sampleskeep in touch

A by-the-numbers approach to what journalists are angry about

By now, you’ve probably checked out AngryJournalist.com.

I blogged about it a few days ago when it had fewer than 200 posts. (I daresay I was the first to compare it to PostSecret? At least the first I saw.) I predict by the time most of you read this, it will be fast approaching 1,000. Right now it’s at 867.

Curious as I usually am to quantify trends, I decided to use some imprecise methods (mainly the find feature in Firefox) to calculate what it is getting journalists so riled up.

You should know, these numbers were compiled when it was at 829, so the last 50 or so aren’t included in the calculation. Also note there may be other terms that appear more frequently, but these were ones that popped out at me or I wanted to search. (My apologizes to those following me on Twitter who already saw these numbers as I live-blogged my research while considering this post earlier.)

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at how frequently each of these terms was referenced in posts by angry journalists.

About the companies we work for:

“Gannett” had hits in 8 different entries — more than any other media company I could find on there.
“Corporate” alone gets 17 hits, though several combined w/Gannett.
• Even the professors and j-school students were getting into it, 37 hits came back referring to j-school (I took out non-j-school related hits with “school”) and 21 on “student” alone.

On what we cover and how we do it:

“Community” appears 20 times.
“Politic” came in with 17 hits, all across the board from politicians to political correctness, campaigns, events, interests, beliefs, etc.
• Speaking of politics, I wouldn’t put much stock in these poll results, but Hillary “Clinton” was mentioned only 2 times. “Obama” on the other hand should look elsewhere for support, at least from the 5 angry posters who called him out.
“Britney” (that would be Spears) annoyed at least 8 journalists enough to cite her as a source of anger.
• The word “web” popped up 77 times, though several posts used the word many times.
• And “blog” alone garnered mention 32 times.
• There are 8 references to “inch” that had to do with story lengths — from both sides, some that they don’t get to write long enough and others that they’re demanded to write longer.
• And 4 journalists complained about “overtime”, or lack thereof (at least the payment for).

You can’t say that in the newspaper:

• An even 100 uses of “fuck” in those 829 posts.
• Slightly lagging the f-bomb, “shit” was evoked 82 times.
• Mostly in reference to co-workers and bosses, 25 distinct references to “idiot”

And the winner, the thing which most journalists seem to be angry enough to vent about?

• Coming in an unsurprising third? “Pay” topped out with 64 uses.
• But even more than “job,” which made 159 appearances, …
• It’s our bosses (“boss” by the way had 42 hits) we love to hate: “editor” popped up 183 times. (Some were in editorial, but that was probably fewer than a dozen.)

Anyway, as I said before, this was mostly an experiment based on my curiosity. It’s imperfect at best. But it does give you pause. Or at least crack a smile.

5 Responses to “A by-the-numbers approach to what journalists are angry about”

  1. Ed Says:

    Wow! There are a lot of angry people out there. Print is losing readers for a lot of reasons, I think we can agree on that. But with all the complaining nobody in these posts is offering any solutions.

    My question is this: If someone had either raised or won the PowerBall and had $200 million to start a daily newspaper from scratch in 2008 what would it look like; what would it be like; how would it be managed? What kind of journalists would you hire? How would you make it profitable?

  2. Kiyoshi Martinez Says:

    Meranda: thanks for the plug and also doing some really cool analysis on the site. I’d been thinking of doing a tag cloud of all the responses to see what the most popular terms were, but just haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. You might have been one of the first few to compare it to PostSecret, but I can’t honestly be sure. I will say that PostSecret, along with the Guestbooks that plagued the Internet in the dot-com era and Overheard in the Office all played a part in influencing my idea for the site.

    Ed: The question is, if you had $200 million from the lottery, would you want to dump it into a newspaper? Or would you rather take your chances and put the money toward tech startups? Personally, I’d rather invest for the future of media rather than put money into a dying format.

  3. Ed Says:


    That was exactly my point. What is the future of media?

  4. Mood swinging journalists | SOJo: Student of Online Journalism Says:

    […] Meranda Watling wrote about both sites, even going so far as to make a study of what makes journalists angry. […]

  5. Mercedez Picolet Says:

    Hell of a shame that negative folk are still out there thirsting for a pound of flesh.