I ignored Twitter and decided to dig through google analytics, comparing the data to news trends within Australia, in attempt to find any interesting trends or patterns within our media services or general public opinion.
This graph relates to keyword searches for /Aboriginal and /rights over the last 5 years.
There’s very clear peaks and valleys within the graph. They seem somewhat cyclical also. I noticed clear peaks around the October and may periods for the last two years, so I decided to investigate popular news clusters from that period.
This function searches for online news articles from sources that are exclusively publically traded (publically owned/traded shares) by Australian law, within a defined date period, and organises them in order of ascending popularity (click throughs, time spent on page, times the link has been shared. The reasons for exclusively Public owned sources is the following,
– News media with ownership dispersed through public traded shares must meet predetermined (extremely high) budget figures to be traded on the exchange. Companies that meet these expectations hold their power because they own majority of viewership/readership within Australia. These companies include Fairfax and the ABC for instance— both at differing ends of the political spectrum, though both Publically traded. Therefore the search function, I feel, is incredibly objective, while at the same time eliminates little read/known publications which would affect the interpretation of data. The idea here, is to gauge insight into the general public consensus of thought, which means sourcing data from popular nationally read news only.
October 20 – Nov 20 
So, starting at the far left red dot, the most popular news issues between concerning /Aboriginal /Aboriginals were.
Proposed laws to Aboriginal heritage act preventing Aboriginal groups from making any land rights claims, in conjunction with heavy proposals to close increasing number of Remote communities. Inside of that are many articles discussing trends in remote Aboriginal health and welfare.
Aboriginal man dies in custody at Casuarina Prison. It’s the 2nd time in 3 months that there has been an Aboriginal death in custody, after a 22yo Aboriginal woman passed away at South Hedland Police Station after being detained for overdue fines.
May 1st – June 30 
Story on 3 year old Samara Muir makes national news, as she attempted to ‘scrub her skin white’ while dressing up as a cahracter from Disney film, ‘Frozen’. All major national news sources provide at least one piece + lots of discussion columns. Also breaks international news interest, being covered in United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, United States and New Zealand.
Continued discussion on forced closure of Aboriginal communities. Woven through that is once again a great of discussion of Aboriginal wellbeing, specifically alcoholism and youth detention rates (with no article showing comparison figures to other demographics)
Oct 1 – Dec 1 
Federal inquiry into previously mentioned case on Ms Dhu dying in police custody, reignites national discussion on treatment of Aboriginals in detainment/Police brutality. There is a great deal of reporting on that.
Further articles on Aboriginal Community closures spark a small pocket of coverage on an isolated fight in the NT which left two men dead. The articles merely reference the Aboriginal community the situation occurred in, along with mention of ‘spears’, then deal almost exclusively with Police interviews and opinions on the matter. Small event, however it was obviously shared considerably.
Canadian news event contaminated the data slightly. Lots of hits pertaining to Canadian elections boosted the popularity figures for this period, and affected the height of the peak marginally. Sadly, something that is unavoidable if I also wish to explore international news trend relations, such as the case was with Samara Muir.
June 3 – Aug 5 
The major peak here was the recent events and inquiry at Don Dale detention centre. This is a national news story, and all publication write a multitude of content on the events. There is no real ‘take’ from international agencies.
There’s a bizzare bump around Bill Shortens appearance on ABC’s Q&A, and his comments that Australia did not “handle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people well”. Lots of agencies comment on this, and lots of people read/shared the articles. It’s strange. A great deal of the information is published by traditional Right wing agencies such as newscorp/fairfax, and the articles are more concerned with belittling shorten and treating his comments as borderline treasonous, opposed to discussing perhaps the reason by the comments.
A breakthrough in DNA technology leads to Aboriginal people definitively being the continent’s first Australians. This is the first popular news issue that does not concern itself with Aboriginal land rights, mistreatment, or health and well being. Finally.
Therefore, all these peaks relate to national news which more-often-than-not concerns itself with Aboriginal violence, violence toward Aboriginals, community closures and Aboriginal mental and physical health. Almost never does a trend peak form from the promotion of a positive Aboriginal figure, or Aboriginal event. Now of course, there’s plenty of news agencies which covers these positive topics, however they are rarely read, viewed or considered popular by objective data, stemming from public opinion.
Also, remember, the graph was formed using /Aboriginal /rights, to reveal peaks of news on aboriginal rights. And those peaks were explored with only /Aboriginal /Aboriginals, therefore all the articles shown above that happened to be concerned with Aboriginal rights (almost all of them) were there purealy because Aboriginal rights discussion is the most popular form of discussion among Australians. Which stinks.
now, PLEASE, I’m not saying discussion on Aboriginal rights is a bad thing, I feel that it becomes a bad thing when it’s almost EXCLUSIVELY what Australians consider important when discussing Aboriginal people. Can we not have popular news that lifts the Aboriginal community, become popular news in Australia?
I kinda wanted to explore this further.
I used an SEO scraper to examine search trends inside of google products (including youtube). This process explores direct Keyword searches for the use of ‘Aboriginal’, In relation to the click through content for these pages (the click through is the url you select after the initial search) and the content including _Aboriginal.
Search engines use a ‘spider’ program to automatically ‘crawl’ through webpages and index its information based on text content inside the site. Therefore, there’s somewhat of a hidden index which exists on the internet. This process of SEO scraping was engineered and is traditionally used for, ‘Search Engine Optimization’— to find where you website ranks in internet searches, and allows you to go back and alter your content so that you have a more enveloping index, and consequently sit higher on google searches.
All that aside, you can kinda reverse use SEO scrapers to access information on this index. It won’t give you figures, however it will show you trends.
Here are the trends for Aboriginal_Rights (54-78) _Aboriginal (81-105)
(Apologies for screenshot. This SEO scraper only exported to google drive spreadsheet, and I didn’t want to grant it access to my drive)
The interesting list is for _Aborginal, which pretty much all, from 1-25 concern themselves with Aboriginal rights, whether it be by topic, or Aboriginal rights activist. Once again the sole narrative surrounding Aboriginal people is rights. Not community, not art, not spirituality, rarely history. It’s as if, for something to become popular, or even published, they HAVE TO concern themselves with the plight of Aboriginal people. Again, I truly believe we should always be discussing the rights of Aboriginal people, but as I’ve mentioned before, when all you hear about something or someone is chained to violence, sadness, mistreatment, abuse, no matter what bias is placed on it, your opinion of that thing becomes poisoned. It’s toxic. Whyyyyy the fuck are we constantly under-valuing and ignoring the amazing culture of spirituality and ecological preservation that existed in this continent for tens of thousands of years. It has to be so so so so difficult growing up Aboriginal and constantly having your culture empowerment brushed aside in place of constant and never ending narratives on why you’ve been mistreated, then opposing opinions on whether you have or have not been mistreated, then crappy opinons on how the mistreatment can end.
If you want something crazy to end on, this graph is created from the search term /Aboriginal, and the plots marked in Yellow are the exact centres of NAIDOC week. A special annual celebration for the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There are obvious depressions where you would consider spikes to be. For this I have no explanation, however my reaction is pretty dismal. It’s just saddening. So so so saddening.
And the most popular search term related to /Aboriginal during last NAIDOC week? (Jul 3-10/2016)
So happy I asked…
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