This visualization compares the inauguration speeches of all Brazilian presidents since the return of the direct election system. It uses a method developed by a linguist and political communications researcher to classify each paragraph of the speeches into categories such as “propositions”, “beliefs” and “warnings”. By putting the texts and their classification side by side, the story tries to guide the reader through the different rhetorical styles of the political leaders of the country.
What makes this project innovative?
We used the research of a linguistics and political communication specialist to put in context how the Brazilian presidents chose to present themselves to the nation. The visualization allows the reader to easily compare both the length and the overall tone of each speech. The interactive graphic also allows the user to read each extract of the pronunciation, adding an exploratory dimension to the experience.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
It was widely shared and discussed, getting attention from researchers and editors of other media publications as well.
Source and methodology
The piece was based on the work of João Bosco Bezerra Bonfim a Ph.D. in linguistics from the UnB (National University of Brasilia). He wrote the book "Word of President", published in 2004 and available in the digital library of the Federal Senate. His work breaks down all the inauguration speeches in the history of the Republic, from Deodoro da Fonseca (1889) to Lula's (2003) first term: the author evaluated the pronouncements paragraph by paragraph and classifies each passage in the six categories previously mentioned. Based on the methodology developed by Bonfim, we classified the later speeches, from Lula’s second term to Bolsonaro’s, the most recent. But what exactly did we look for when doing the classification? “Praise” is the time when the speaker - that is, the president - recognizes and welcomes the audience, both physically present and the symbolic, distant or imagined one. The “problems” category is selected when the speakers lists the threats and challenges that the country will face in his government. In “warnings”, the speaker addresses his perceived enemies or even people from whom he wishes to see a certain behavior. Paragraphs are labeled as “support” when the speaker addresses those who are rejoicing with him and clarifies what are the reasons for celebration. “Beliefs” are excerpts from the speech in which the president shows his worldview. These are the moments in which the speakers shows his identity, the ideas in which he believes and the concepts he rejects. Finally, “propositions” are the promises and commitments that the president assumes for his term.
Rodrigo Menegat - Data and story writing Augusto Conconi - Data and story writing Bruno Ponceano - Infographics Ariel Tonglet - Infographics and web development Matheus Lara - speech transcription