Wednesday, August 9, 2017

UGA's Collegiate Readership Program

So I was leaving the journalism building a week or so ago and noticed this.

That blank spot is where the newspaper rack sat that gave students access to the NYTimes, the Athens Banner-Herald, etc., through the Collegiate Readership Program paid for, at UGA, by the SGA via student fees. You could swipe your card, get a paper, or often as not just open the rack as it was often busted. In full disclosure, I already get the papers on my iPad, so I didn't take the physical copies. Anyway, the rack is gone, and I looked at Tate and it's gone from there as well. So, me being me, I asked what's up. By email, to the SGA. Here's the response I got today:

Hi Barry,

The physical boxes around campus are gone, but we have an exciting new update about the readership program coming soon (hopefully early next week). Stay tuned on our social media to get the fastest update!


Student Government Association
The University of Georgia
102 Tate Student Center

Odds are it's part of some app or online rather than physical paper. Some of that can be done now, as you can tell from the SGA's info about the program, lifted and pasted below.

For nearly 10 years, SGA has sponsored the New York Times/USA Today Collegiate Readership program, which provides students with free access to several national and local newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today and the Athens-Banner Herald. Paper bins are in convenient locations across campus and in residence halls. In order to access the bins, students need only to insert their UGA ID card into the reader display, opening the door and allowing them to take a paper. 

Since 2012, students have also been granted access to free web and app passes. Students go and sign up and then they are able to log in as often as every 24 hours to claim a pass. The number of passes allocated to the University is based on the number of physical papers students pick up out of the bins around campus, so as the Collegiate Readership Program increases in popularity, online access increases for all UGA students. 

Monday, August 7, 2017


I'm working with the 2016 ANES data on something completely different and came across a question asking respondents:

How many guns do you or anyone else living here own?

For the same of full transparency, I'd answer one. I've had it for years.

The data is fascinating. Nearly two-thirds of 3,468 respondents who answered the question answered zero (actually, 65.7 percent). That means everyone else has a gun, but how many? Like me, more answered one gun than any other response (10.2 percent), followed by two guns (7.3 percent), and so on. Like a lot of surveys, you get weird answers as well. Two people said they own 50 guns and one person reported owning 99 guns. That's a lot of guns, except I'm willing to bet it was a survey response tossed off with little or no thought. I suspect they own a lot, but even to me 99 seems unlikely. Twenty, yeah. Ninety-nine? Not so much.

For fun, let's treat this question as an interval-level variable and correlate it with certain other variables. You know, stuff like age, education, and political ideology. Below are some results.

  • Education: unrelated to how many guns you own
  • Slight positive relationship, older equals more guns. Barely.
  • Same as above for income. There, but not strong.
  • The more you identify with the GOP, the more guns ya own.
  • Ditto to above for being more conservative.
We could go on and on with this, correlating this with a jillion variables available in the data, but I doubt we'd be surprised by the basic results. There was also a slight positive relationship with how many guns you own and how satisfied you are with democracy (r = .04, p<.01) and how fair you felt the 2016 election was (r = .07, p<.001). That's comforting, knowing the gun fans are happy.

From a media standpoint, it's no surprise that there's a small but significant correlation between how many guns you own and watching Fox News hosts Sean Hannity (r=.08, p<.001) and Bill O'Reilly (still on the air in '16, r = .09, p<.001). No relationship with watching Anderson Cooper or Chris Matthews.

A more useful analysis, to be honest, is recoding that gun question so it has two levels -- don't own a gun, or do. Really the number of guns measures those who hunt, in which it's not unusual to have several guns depending on the kind of hunting you're doing at that time.

Friday, August 4, 2017

UGA Vendor Payments

Friday afternoons are for doing stuff I shouldn't be doing and not doing the stuff I should be doing. In other words, I'm playing around with data -- this time UGA data on payments it made to various vendors. And by various, I mean 27,196 vendors listed in the 2016 fiscal year (data for the 2017 fiscal year, which ended in June, isn't available yet). There's not much here, just the name of the vendor, the total payment for the fiscal year, and the number of payments made. With no explanation whatsoever, here are the Top Ten and their amounts. I'll comment briefly below the list. Numbers are rounded to preserve my sanity.
  1. UGA Payroll ($931.9 million)
  2. Bank of America ($27.0 million)
  3. Georgia Power Company ($19.2 million)
  4. Office of the State Treasurer ($13.0 million)
  5. UGA Research Foundation ($12.3 million)
  6. UGAREF O'Malley's Building LLC ($11.9 million)
  7. AJAX Building Corporation of Georgia ($8.1 million)
  8. EBSCO Media ($8.0 million)
  9. Fisher Scientific Co. LLC ($7.5 million)
  10. UGAREF East Campus Housing LLC ($7.0 million)
A few notes about above. Payroll is #1, that's no surprise, and a lot of the others appear to be construction costs or payments to to the research foundation or for the electricity that keeps me cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Fun things I found. Jittery Joe's received a $68,799.86 payment. I'm a fan. You can't pay them enough. Chick-fil-A got $112,157.36. Oh, and for you chip lovers out there, $155,956.76 was paid to Frito Lay. With so many payments, a lot of them are weird looking but normal stuff for a university this size. Here's one -- Versus Spa. That one got my journalism spidey senses tingling but it turns out that $114,864.90 went to a routine company that has nothing to do with spas. Oh, and Homeland Security received $110,235 from us. No idea why. 

Yes, I checked for myself. I'm not in there, though there are a lot of individuals listed, mostly small amounts.

Friday, July 28, 2017

News and Trust

There's a survey report out today about news trust and credibility, and there's a better look at the results here, if you're so inclined. It's a weird study, in a way. Here's why:
Data were collected in the February and March 2017 using an online survey made available to users (N = 8,728) of the digital media platforms of twenty-eight different newsrooms across the United States.
In other words, it's a SLOP. A really big SLOP, with some statistical weighting done to correct for different sized news organizations that participated, but a SLOP nonetheless. Participants came from the websites of news orgs, so you can't really generalize it to the population as a whole, just those who happened to visit those news sites and who happened to feel like participating in an online survey.

That said, there's some good information here and it's worth your time. At least some. This graphic is interesting, though I suspect due to the sample, a bit flawed. You can see it and others on the report itself.

So what makes a news source credible? The survey had an open-ended question that allowed up to three words as a response (seen at the end of the report). Here are the top five.

  1. other news sources
  2. both sides issue
  3. both sides story
  4. check multiple sources
  5. present both sides
It doesn't take a social scientist to figure out what's going on above. Presenting more than one side of a story is directly tied to perceptions of credibility. Of course this is exactly what talk radio and certain cable television talking heads never do, or if they do it, it's a straw man argument for the other side that's easy for them to knock down. Rarely will you hear a talk radio host provide a fair representation of the other side's position. By the way, the list continues with lots of references to checking multiple sources and similar answers.

Keep in mind these are the responses of people who visit legitimate news sites, not the general public or even the general news consuming public. It's a big, but biased, sample. That said, there's something you can glean from a quick read.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Who Won the Popular Prez Vote?

As most folks know, Donald Trump won the 2016 Electoral College but Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million. Turns out, Trump fans believe he won the 2016 popular vote. He didn't, but let's forget the facts.

In that poll linked above, here are the poll's topline results and here are the more interesting crosstabs. Let's focus on the latter. By the way, if you're searching for the question, it's POL18.

The question asked: Based on what you know, who received the most votes from the general population in the 2016 presidential election?

Overall, 28 percent of respondents said incorrectly that Trump won the popular vote and among Trump voters, 49 percent incorrectly said he received more votes. Men and women were about equally incorrect on this question. As you'd expect, education plays a role. Among the lowest education group, 31 percent said Trump won while in the highest education group, 21 percent said he received the most popular votes.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


I let the 10th anniversary of this blog slip by. The very first post was May 2, 2007, and aptly named "Yet Another Blog." Long live the blog. This space has changed over time. At first it was me writing about media research, then it started to include media in general, then it included major stories and data journalism, then it turned into pretty much whatever the hell I felt like writing at the time.

Over the years I've had serious traffic, but most days I have tens of readers worldwide. Below is a quick look at the traffic over time, the bottom showing the most popular blog posts, which happen to involve the infamous editor walkout at The Red & Black, UGA's student newspaper (links below).

For those unaware of that walkout, that generated national coverage, here are links in chronological order to my posts. Read them in that order and it'll make more sense. Those students, by the way, are out there still doing great stuff professionally.

First post
Second post
Third post

You can see in the graphic above how readership jumped during that period, then the blog levels off with some spikes here and there, depending on individual stories, often with data, usually with some local angle.

Most of the traffic here comes from Google, often people searching for research terms that often come up in my posts, like above's "cognitive mobilization," which is a popular research topic, especially in Europe, and one I did some stuff on as a grad student. A lot of folks also end up here via Twitter, mainly from me tweeting about my most recent post with a link, or it being shared. Third place goes to Facebook as I sometimes, but not often, will post what I'm writing there with a link back.

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Roughing Up" and Violence

Remember the Donald Trump campaign and protesters getting pushed around? There's still a lawsuit pending on that incident, so it got me to wondering what people think about such actions.

Welcome to another round of Hollander Plays With Data.

The 2016 ANES has a couple of questions that kinda get to this issue. They ask:
When protestors [sic] get "roughed up" for disrupting political events, how much do they generally deserve what happens to them? Responses ranged from "not at all" to "a great deal" on a 5-point scale. 
How much do you feel it is justified for people to use violence to pursue their political goals in this country? Responses ranged from "not at all" to "a great deal" on a 5-point scale.
The first question clearly is aimed at Trump rallies and protesters, the second more a case of protesters using violence and seems, to me, more aimed at Democrats.

First off, there's a modest but statistically significant correlation between the two (r = .16, p<.001). That's not particularly strong. You see much stronger correlations with party identification and ideology. The more you leaned Republican, the more you liked roughing up protesters (r = .30, p<.001) but didn't like violence for political goals (r = -.06, p<.01). Or we can flip this and argue that the more you leaned Democrat, the less you liked roughing up folks but the more you agreed violence was sometimes necessary for political goals. that last one is pretty small, a correlation coefficient of .06. If not for the large N (3,572 respondents) it probably wouldn't even be statistically significant, so let's stick to the "roughing up" issue.

There's a lot to untangle here. It's no surprise that survey respondents who preferred Trump also tended to agree that sometimes you needed tough love with protesters (X2 = 420.0, df = 4, p<.001). To sum it up, for example, among those who strongly agreed that protesters got what they deserved, 75.5 percent supported Trump, 24.5 percent supported Clinton. The raw number of responses are seen below by Clinton/Trump support pre-election. It's hardly surprising that the red bars are longer at the agreement level, the blue bars are longer at the "not at all" end of the spectrum. In other words, it's all partisanship.

For fun I ran a quick-and-dirty multiple regression on the "roughed up" variable to see what factors are really driving this. Simply put, a regression puts all the factors into a model to compete with one another, with those that best explain the concept winning out and rising to statistical significance.

Some stuff does not play a role, when controlling for other factors. Age, sex, race, reading newspapers, watching television, news, or listening to radio for news are not factors. What is a factor? Less education and lower income are related to believing in roughing 'em up, which of course is a function of Trump's political support. Party ID and ideology are both factors in the expected direction. Using the internet for news is a negative predictor, so the more you use the net for news, the less you believe in roughing 'em up. Finally, for fun, watching Bill O'Reilly, even after controlling for all this other stuff, still means you think the protesters get what they deserve (beta = .06, p<.01 for you stats nerds out there). Fox News is always a special case.

Honestly, this may be worth a paper, if I can find time to really get into it.