Who is at the center of American politics? One way to explore this is by looking at how often different political actors (e.g. politicians, interest groups, federal agencies) are mentioned in the news and with whom they are mentioned. Using data from national news articles, I identified the most frequently mentioned political actors. Actors who are mentioned in the same articles are considered link, and groups of actors can be constructed based on which sets of actors are regularly mentioned together. In the graph below, the size of the circle is based on how often an actor is mentioned. You can hover over a node to find out who it is and how many times it appeared in the paper. Actors that appear together are linked by line, with thicker lines representing more frequent co-occurrences. Groups of actors that are mentioned together are all the same color. Social movement organizations have a black outline, while think tanks and other Beltway organizations have a red outline. This works best in Safari and Chrome.
Data is from the New York Times, including all national and Washington stories, 2009-2011. A network of co-occurrences is then analyzed with NetworkX, and related nodes are clustered using the Louvain method for community detection. Node size is based on the square root of the number of mentions, with adjustments so that. Edge width is proportional to the square of the number of co-occurrence and edges with weights below a threshold of five are not displayed. We also remove the #porn and #followmeback communities. Data is exported using Drew Conway's NetworkX fork, and displayed using Mike Bostock's d3.js force layout.