Big Data for Media

Just out, a Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (University of Oxford) report titled Big Data for Media. Authored by Martha L. Stone, the 33-page report, which looks at the big data phenomenon in the media sector, grew out of interview research with publishers, broadcasters, data scientists, and academics as well as two “Big Data for Media” London-based conferences in 2013 and 2014.

“For newspapers, television, magazines and Internet-only publishers, Big Data strategies can include audience analytics to enable a better understanding and targeting of customers; tools to understand public and private databases for journalistic storytelling; tools to manage and search the exploding amount of video, social media and other content; tools to target advertising and ad campaigns; tools to automate the production of text and video stories, tools to identify waste and enable efficiencies; and much more….While media industries are learning a lot from each other about Big Data, they are also increasingly drawing insights from other sectors beyond the media.” —Report’s introduction


Case studies of various media outlets make up the meat of the report.  Outlets include the Huffington Post, Buzz Feed, Financial Times and, dunnhumbly, Sacramento Bee, Archant, BBC, and CNN.  The pages are data rich in the form of pie and bar charts and other visuals.

Communication and the Moon

Two interesting books came out this year relating to the moon.  marketingthemoonIn Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program by David Meerman Scott, Richard Jurek (MIT Press, 2014), the authors give us a detailed account of the PR campaigns and subsequent media coverage of the Apollo missions. It is not only a well written book, it’s a beautiful book, full of photographs and  illustrations.

Joshua Rothman in the  New Yorker’s August review observes: “…If there was a central pillar to the Apollo P.R. effort, it was live television. Scott and Jurek chart the continual battle within NASA over live TV. On one side were the engineers and military types, who viewed onboard television cameras as an unnecessary addition to the mission payload, or even as an invasion of astronaut privacy. On the other side were the administrators and public-relations specialists, who argued that television was, in some ways, the point of the mission. To the pro-TV faction, the medium had an ideological meaning: when faced with opposition from the engineering team, Julian Scheer, NASA’s director of P.R., said, “We’re not the Soviets. Let’s do this the American way….CBS covered the Apollo 11 landing for thirty-two continuous hours; it set up special screens in Central Park so that people could watch in a crowd. Ninety-four per cent of TV-owning American households tuned in. Without television, the moon landing would have been a merely impressive achievement — an expensive stunt, to the cynical. Instead, seen live, unedited, and everywhere, it became a genuine experience of global intimacy.”

Then there’s No Requiem for the Space Age: The Apollo Moon Landings and American Culture by Matthew D. Trippe (Oxford University Press, 2014) which takes a more cultural view.  It looks at the space program through the lens of of cultural artifact such as movies, novels, rock albums, and religious tracts of the 1960s and 70s and proceeds to analyze why support for the NASA missions decreased throughout the 70s.  requiem One of the reasons had to do with the growing conflict between the more straightlaced-rational-military/scientific culture versus the more mystical-rebellious-skeptical of authority (including scientific) counterculture. NPR’s Robert Krulwich reviewing the book in his blog, Krulich Wonders (July 16, 2014), points out another of Tribbe’s explanations which I find even more interesting (at least it’s less obvious), one that has to do with rhetoric, which he devotes a whole chapter to.

“People, he thinks, were eager to hear what it was like to escape the Earth’s atmosphere, to travel weightlessly, to touch down on an alien planet, to be the first explorers to leave “home,” and too often (much too often), the astronauts talked about these things using the same words — “beautiful,” “fantastic” — over and over. If space exploration was to be a grand adventure, it needed explorers who could take us there, tell us how it felt, explorers who could connect with those of us who can’t (but want to) come along. Inarticulateness, Tribbe thinks, hurt the space program.”

Even if your research these days has no lunar bearings whatsoever, both books look like fascinating reads.


Internet Television News Archive

It’s hard to keep up with all that the Internet Archive has to offer these days.  When it comes to TV news The Vanderbilt Television indexNews Archive may be what first comes to mind (and their coverage goes back to 1968, nothing to sneeze at) but for more recent news the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive is worth looking at.  Open to all, it includes over 600,000 clips from news shows since 2009.  One can filter by networks which, in addition to ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, and CNN (Vanderbilt turf) also include MSNBC, Al Jazeera America, Comedy Central, Estrella TV, and others.

It works like this. Search on a topic (keyword, phrase, name, etc.) and select the clip you are interested in viewing. Then you can further edit with the accompanying transcript to extract the exact quote you want to embed in a document or share on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Material others find significant enough to “quote” in this fashion is saved for subsequent archive users, creating an organically grown archive of popularity within the larger archive. There is an option to borrow full DVDs of the shows from which the search-result segments derive.

Search-result metadata, which appears on the lefthand side of the screen, offers breakdowns by years, networks, programs and also throws up a useful timeline of results.  I thought I’d try a simple search on “nurses” since the nursing profession has been front and center in the news due to the recent Ebola scare in the United States. Sure enough, the spike for mentions of nurses in the news is dramatic.

Search on "nurses" since 2009.

Search on “nurses” since 2009.


Government Shutdown: Comparing Newspaper Front Pages

Whether you have a fervent or just passing interest in front page coverage of big stories, the best place to start is the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages Web site. Today’s sampling includes 908 front pages from 87 countries, all weighing in in some fashion on the US government shutdown. Each day’s  selection of front pages is available on the site by 8:30 a.m. Each morning editors choose a min-exhibit of that day’s top 10 front pages. You can ignore such pre-selection and wade through them all yourself or, for more organized browsing, papers are sorted by region with lists and maps.

Today’s Front Pages is also a permanent “bricks and mortar” exhibit residing on the 6th level of the museum (located in Washington, DC). The  museum as a whole is this librarian-blogger’s favorite non-art museum on the planet. Good stuff for all ages!

News Site Feature: News Americas

Along the lines of  AllAfrica, NewsAmericas is a news aggregating, producing, and distributing site for Caribbean, South and Central American readers.

From About NewsAmericas:
News Americas aims to be the HuffPo of the Americas! It was created to give writers from this region and with an interest in this region a platform to showcase Top News from this region and their individual countries – including business, sports and entertainment news, as well share independent and radical opinions and lifestyle and travel features.

The site includes links to pertinent articles from outside the region as well (New York Times, Miami Herald). It sports a Breaking News ticker and RSS feed option.

Special issues from Journalism and Journalism Studies

The latest Journalism and Journalism Studies are both running interesting themed issues. 

Journalism Studies (Volume 14, Issue 2, 2013) addresses the issue of cosmopolitanism in today’s new media landscape. 
Cosmopolitanism, the issue argues, is an orientation of openness towards distant others that relies on technological mediation so as to raise the moral imperative to act on those others in the name of common humanity (Silverstone2007). Whilst cosmopolitanism has long been associated with the capacity of journalism to bring “home” distant realities and to inspire a sense of care and responsibility beyond our communities of belonging (Hannerz 1990), the emergence of new media and their appropriation in citizen-driven practices of reporting has invigorated debates about the cosmopolitan efficacy of journalism today (Ward 2010; Zuckerman 2010). New media journalism refers to a broad economy of integrated technological mediations, what Madianou (this issue) calls a “polymedia” milieu, which “comprises of technologies, media, platforms and applications as they intersect and hybridise”, circulating information but also facilitating opinion and testimony. Within this milieu, it is, in particular, the intervention of ordinary voice into journalism, made possible through these polymedia affordances (from Twitter to mobile phones), that appears to catalyse the cosmopolitan efficacy. Insofar as events can be reported by people like us, the argument has it, the news can become both more authentic towards its own publics and more caring towards distant others (Allan 2007; Harcup 2002). —from the Introduction

Articles include:

• ONLINE JOURNALISM AND CIVIC COSMOPOLITANISM: Professional vs . participatory ideals, by Dahlgren P.
• COSMOPOLITANISM AS CONFORMITY AND CONTESTATION: The mainstream press and radical politics, by Fenton N.
• SITUATED, EMBODIED AND POLITICAL: Expressions of citizen journalism, by Blaagaard B. B.
• GETTING CLOSER?: Encounters of the national media with global images, by Pantti.
• THE WORLD IS WATCHING: The mediatic structure of cosmopolitanism, by Cheah P.
• JOURNALISTS WITNESSING DISASTER: From the calculus of death to the injunction to care, by Cottle S.

• HUMANITARIAN CAMPAIGNS IN SOCIAL MEDIA: Network architectures and polymedia events, by Madianou M.
  RE-MEDIATION, INTER-MEDIATION, TRANS-MEDIATION: The cosmopolitan trajectories of convergent journalism, by Chouliaraki.

Journalism‘s special issue (Volume 14, Issue 2, 2013) is: Journalism and the Financial Crisis. Articles include:

• Financial journalism, news sources and the banking crisis, by Paul Manning
• Budgetjam! A communications intervention in the political – economic crisis in Ireland, by Gavan Titley
• Ignored , uninterested , and the blame game : How The New York Times , Marketplace , and The Street distanced themselves from preventing the 2007-2009 financial crisis, by Nikki Usher
• The Today programme and the banking crisis, by Mike Berry
• Are we all Keynesians now? The US press and the American Recovery Act of 2009, by Anya Schiffrin
• Downloading disaster: BBC news online coverage of the global financial crisis, by Steve Schifferes
• Financial news and market panics in the age of high – frequency sentiment trading algorithms, by Jan Kleinnijenhuis
• Invested interests? Reflexivity, representation and reporting in financial markets, by Peter A Thompson

Post-Industrial Journalism

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School has just published a 122-page report called Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present. It’s divided into sections on the Transformation of American Journalism (Introduction), Journalists, Institutions, Ecosystems, and Tectonic Shifts (Conclusion). The report is authored by C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell, and Clay Shirky. 

From “Methods Used in This Report:”

More an essay than a piece of testable scholarship, we nonetheless drew on a variety of methods while formulating our analysis, recommendations and conclusions. Primarily, the research was based in qualitative interviews, conducted both one-on-one, on location, over email or telephone, and at the offices of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A significant amount of data was gathered at a closed-door conference at the journalism school on April 17-18, 2012, that involved 21 people.

For the most part, however, this essay draws on the industry experience and previous scholarship of its authors. It attempts to combine more traditional academic theory with current developments in the worlds of journalism and digital media–always a fraught task. To the degree we have succeeded, we hope that the report is neither superficial to those coming to it as scholars, nor overly dense to working journalists who may work their way through its pages.

Ultimately, we believe that this report should also serve as a call to further, more traditional academic research. Many of its conclusions can be tested through a variety of methods and with a variety of goals in mind. Insofar as the authors each work at different schools of journalism in New York City, and insofar as each is engaged in a different aspect of scholarly production for their respective home institutions, the future for ‘useful journalism research’ would appear bright. Ultimately, the conclusions and provocations of this essay will rise or fall based on changes within journalism itself.

Historical Newspaper Feature: Illustrated London News

When it comes to primary source material for newspapers Penn Libraries delivers. Penn readers can step deliciously into journalism history with the Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003, which covers more than 7,000 issues over 161 years, with 260,000 fulltext articles and more than 1.5 million images. The enormously popular daily showed and told the British public about their world, from the Crystal Palace and the Crimean War battlefields through King Tut and the sinking of the Titanic to the death of Princess Diana and beyond.

On Saturday 14 May 1842, a publishing revolution occurred. The world’s first pictorial weekly newspaper was born: The Illustrated London News. Its founder, Herbert Ingram, was an entrepreneurial newsagent, who noticed that newspapers sold more copies when they carried pictures. The inaugural issue covered a fire in Hamburg, Queen Victoria’s fancy dress ball, the war in Afghanistan and the latest fashions in Paris. The ILN commissioned a galaxy of great artists and draughtsmen to cover wars, royal events, scientific invention, and exploration. In 1855 it launched the world’s first colour supplement. Over the years the publication played host to distinguished contributors and continued to push the boundaries of journalism throughout its history.–GALE Cengage Learning (Publisher)

And don’t forget, for a more staid take on London town and the Continent there is also The Times of London at your disposal, Times Digital Archive (1785-1985). 

Index on Censorship at 40

My vote for the most important journal in the field (and a lot of others), Index on Censorship celebrated its 40th year not too long ago with a special anniversary issue featuring poetry from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Chinese activist Chen Wei’s online essay on fasting that led to his imprisonment, an exclusive extract from Ariel Dorman’s new play, and Rebecca MacKinnon on the future of internet freedom. There are highlights from previous issues featuring Nadine Gordimer, Salman Rushdie and Kurt Vonnegut.  In addition, Robert McCrum discusses the journal’s role in the history of the fight for free speech, from the oppression of the Cold War to censorship online.
The award-winning Index on Censorship, is devoted to protecting and promoting freedom of expression throughout the world. It reports on free expression violations, publishes banned writing and shines a light on the important free expression issues of the day.

“The medium may have changed over four decades, but the message remains the same – as do the methods for silencing writers, whistleblowers, artists and protesters.”–The Editors

Find this journal in Penn Library e-resources or in paper at the Annenberg Libary–it’s handsome (and holy) enough to warrant both virtual and non-virtual formats!
As part of our anniversary celebrations, our publisher is opening the magazine’s archive for 40 days from 26 March

Digital Microfilm for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News

Here’s where Penn Libraries’ newspaper e-resources stand with two important local papers, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. Can you say options? You can find the Philadelphia Inquirer in both Lexis Nexis from 1994 to the present and in Newsbank from 1981 to the present. As for the Philadelphia Daily News, Lexis Nexis offers 1994 to the present while Newsbank goes back to1978 up to the present. Both Lexis Nexis and Newsbank are solid search engines so for most searching you can go with your favorite platform (Newsbank has pretty maps!) unless your query requires complicated search strings. In that case Lexis-Nexis would be the better choice as it allows for more complicated boolean logic.

But what if you want to see either title as they appeared as hand held newspapers? You want to see pictures or ads or where a certain story appeared on the page and what was next to it.  Here Lexis-Nexis and Newsbank can’t deliver other than giving page numbers and article word counts. Before this month your option would be the Penn Libraries microfilm collection which for The Inquirer goes back to 1969 and runs to the present (we keep the newspaper for three months until the film comes in); same deal for the Daily News except the film only goes back to 1990.

Here’s the news.  Now, thanks to Proquest Digital Microfilm, both The Inquirer and the Daily News are available in digital facsimile for recent years, 2010 -2012.  Look for holdings to expand all the way back like other titles from Proquest do, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal –but I’m not promising anything.

Speaking of the digital page turning experience as opposed to extracted text only newspaper files, don’t forget the often overlooked Library PressDisplay (NewspaperDirect)which features the last 60 days of over 200 newspapers from 55 countries.  It includes the Philadelphia Daily News but not the The Philadelphia Inquirer.