News Frontier Database

Columbia Journalism Review has just launched a new initiative called The News Frontier Database which it boasts on its homepage as:

…a searchable, living, and ongoing documentation of digital news outlets across the country. Featuring originally reported profiles and extensive data sets on each outlet, the NFDB is a tool for those who study or pursue online journalism, a window into that world for the uninitiated, and, like any journalistic product, a means by which to shed light on an important topic. We plan to build the NFDB into the most comprehensive resource of its kind.

Right now the site is more potential than anything else, a promising shell that will build up quickly. So far, for instance, under Arts and Culture there are only five outlets listed; under Education there are none. Once populated however, one can envision the usefulness of being able to search online news outlets by location, affiliation, staff and volunteer sizes, subject categories and business models.

Criteria for news organization inclusion are stated as follows:(1) Digital news sites included in the NFDB should be primarily devoted to original reporting and content production. (2) With rare exceptions, the outlet should have at least one full-time employee. (3) The digital news site should be something other than the web arm of a legacy media entity. (There’s no doubt that some of the most important online journalism is being produced by the websites of newspapers and other legacy media, but this database is devoted to a new kind of publication.) (4) The digital news site should be making a serious effort to sustain its work financially, whether that be through advertising, grants, or other revenue sources. (The language and spirit of this last criterion borrow from the work of Michele McLellan.)

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Remember, however meagerly we go about our daily lives, the Library of Congress is relentlessly building its digital tower of historical newspapers. Just this past week it uploaded a new batch of titles into Chronicling America, bringing its current total number of pages to 3.1 million, 414 newspapers from 23 states between 1899-1922. Chronicling America newspapers can be searched with words or phrases; or, for a broader, more regional approach, once can search by one or more states. Of course, this being the Library of Congress, this database is an open web resource, available to all, noUPenn status required.

Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

60 Years of University News Coverage

The Soundbite University: 60 Years of University News Coverage, is a large-scale study conducted by Kalev Leetaru and Dr. Paul Magelli at the University of Illinois to explore how higher education has been covered in the New York Times over the last 60 years.

“More than 18 million documents comprising the entire run of the New York Times from 1945 to 2005 were examined for all references to United States research universities and compared to spatial, temporal, and a variety of institutional indicators to examine how coverage has changed over this period and the characteristics most commonly associated with elevated national press visibility. One of the most surprising findings is the transition of the research university from a newsmaker to a news commentator, suggesting a need for universities to profoundly change the ways in which they interact with the press, especially as we enter a new era in media.”

Major Findings (from the Report’s abstract):

•Subject to Soundbite. In 1946, 53% of articles mentioning a research university were about that university, focusing on its research or activities. Today, just 15% of articles mentioning a university are about that university: the remaining 85% simply cite high-stature faculty for soundbite commentary on current events.

•Sustained Interest. The New York Times has shrunk in size by half, while the number of news articles referencing research universities has remained constant. Thus, as a percentage of all stories in the paper, higher education has increased nearly linearly, to 13% of all articles and 21% of all front page articles today.

•Trajectories. Private universities have 63% greater total news mentions and 57% greater front page appearances than public institutions. However, when limiting to just news coverage about institutions (excluding soundbites), roughly 24% of public institution coverage and 29% of private institution coverage is about the university.

•Location. Distance from major metropolitan areas and from New York City shows only a weak inverse correlation with news coverage, suggesting those institutions in the New York Time’s backyard do not receive substantially greater coverage.

•Enrollment. Both public and private universities have an extremely strong correlation between graduate enrollment and news volume.

•Budget. Detailed budgetary information is only available for public universities. Total expenditures matter slightly more than total assets and most surprisingly, institutions spending more of their budget on public engagement and on instruction have a lower news volume.

•Research Output. Number of research grants, total US patents issued, and size of the faculty have strong correlations at public universities, with slightly weaker correlations at private institutions. Total number of faculty has a strong relationship at both institutional types.

•Press Engagement. Most research universities do a very poor job at aggregating press release content from across their institution into a single place.

•Web Pages & Blogs. Today, most discourse around research universities occurs online. Institutional characteristics correlated with online coverage mirror those for New York Times volume, suggesting these indicators underlie higher education media visibility overall, rather than being unique to the New York Times.

Research Feature: Press coverage of Michael Vick

Here’s a timely bit of research, at least for us folks here in the Philly area. In the Journal of Sports Media you can read Pamela C. Laucella’s (Indiana University of Journalism-Indianapolis) findings on media coverage of the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal.

Michael Vick: An Analysis of Press Coverage on Federal Dogfighting Charges, Journal of Sport Media (Volume 5, Number 2, Fall 2010) pp. 35-79. Available at the ASC Library, also as e-journal from the Penn Library homepage.

Abstract: Michael Vick’s superstar career as a quarterback in the National Football League seemingly came to an end when he pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges on August 20, 2007. This research studied press coverage of Vick’s indictment, arraignment, and guilty plea in Richmond, Virginia by analyzing 243 primary documents from The New York Times, Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and USA Today. It offers a longitudinal examination of the scandal and elucidates the intersecting worlds of sport, media, race, and culture. This research adds to work on the cultural impact of media and sport, reinforces the criminal-athlete discourse, and elucidates the egregious practice of dogfighting.

Report on Media Freedom Indexes

The Center for International Media Assistance, CIMA, a media development organization, along with the Center for Global Communication Studies (at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School) have jointly published a report on media freedom indexes, Evaluating the Evaluators: Media Freedom Indexes and What They Measure. The Report “examines the strengths and shortcomings of existing media freedom indexes and offers recommendations to improve them” The author of the study is former Washington Post reporter and editor, John Burgess. The media freedom organizations that are evaluated are Freedom House, IREX and Reporters Without Borders.

MITWorld Panel on Disinformation

MIT just posted this event from the past spring. Other programs related to media can be found at the site.

Denialism: Media in the Age of Disinformation

April 27, 2010

A few hundred years after the Enlightenment, western civilization is rushing back to the Dark Ages. The causes are debatable, but, argue these science journalists, the public increasingly rejects the findings of science, from climate change to evolution, and is turning away from rationality and reason in general.


Michael Specter

Staff Writer, The New Yorker

Chris Mooney

Blogger, Discover Magazine

2009-2010 Knight Journalism Fellow

Shannon Brownlee

Instructor, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice

Senior Research Fellow, Economic Growth Program, New America Foundation

Shankar Vedantam

National Science Writer, The Washington Post

Keeping an eye on Google’s digital newspaper archives

Google digitization goes forward unabated and that’s great for newspaper backfiles. My good friend and colleague, Nick Okrent, over at Van Pelt sent me this list. These Google efforts, he writes, are “especially useful for the period that is post-Readex and pre-Lexis/Factiva. Here’s a partial list…To take one interesting example, the Deseret News 1860-.”

The US titles on this list can be found on Nick’s Historical Newspapers Online research guide. For the Canada and Australia papers, just go into Google News and do a source search (in the Google box type: source:”Sydney Mail”).

1. Lodi Sentinel Lodi California 1900 – 2009

2. Bridgeport Morning News Bridgeport Connecticut 1880 – 1899

3. Day New London Connecticut 1880 – 2010

4. Hartford Weekly Times Hartford Connecticut 1840 – 1899

5. Meriden Daily Republican Meriden Connecticut 1865 – 1899

6. Sunday Morning Star Wilmington Delaware 1880 – 1989

7. Carroll Herald Caroll Iowa 1870 – 1929

8. Clinton Evening News Clinton Iowa 1880 – 1899

9. Clinton Morning Age Clinton Iowa 1894 – 1904

10. Aurora Daily Express Aurora Illinois 1882 – 1902

11. Crawfordsville Star Crawfordsville Indiana 1872 – 1899

12. Daily Argus News Crawfordsville Indiana 1886 – 1919

13. Kentucky New Era Hopkinsville Kentucky 1890 – 2009

14. Courrier De La Louisiane New Orleans Louisiana 1810 – 1859

15. New Orleans Commercial Bulletin New Orleans Louisiana 1830 – 1879

16. Boston Daily Evening Transcript Boston Massachusetts 1860 – 1879

17. Boston Evening Transcript Boston Massachusetts 1860 – 1919

18. Lewiston Daily Sun Lewiston Maine 1890 – 2010

19. Lewiston Evening Journal Lewiston Maine 1860 – 1979

20. Village Voice New York New York 1957 – 2004

21. Adams Centinel Gettysburg Pennsylvania 1800 – 1889

22. Gettysburg Compiler Gettysburg Pennsylvania 1860 – 1949

23. Pittsburgh Press Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 1880 – 1999

24. Reading Eagle Reading Pennsylvania 1860 – 2010

25. Republican Compiler Gettysburg Pennsylvania 1810 – 1889

26. Star and Sentinel Gettysburg Pennsylvania 1860 – 1959

27. Deseret News Salt Lake City Utah 1860 – 2010

28. Milwaukee Journal Milwaukee Wisconsin 1890 – 2010

29. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Milwaukee Wisconsin 1884 – 1995

Victoria Daily Standard Victoria British Columbia 1870 – 1873

2. Saint John Daily Evening News Saint John New Brunswick 1860 – 1889

3. Public Ledger St. John’s Newfoundland/Labrador 1820 – 1889

4. Morning Chronicle Halifax Nova Scotia 1840 – 1879

5. Huron Expositor Seaforth Ontario 1870 – 1899

6. Irish Canadian Toronto Ontario 1860 – 1899

7. Ottawa Citizen Ottawa Ontario 1860 – 2010

8. Ottawa Times Ottawa Ontario 1860 – 1879

9. Sarnia Observer Sarnia Ontario 1850 – 1909

10. Toronto Daily Mail Toronto Ontario 1881 – 1899

11. Canadian Illustrated News Montreal Quebec 1860 – 1889

12. Daily Witness Montreal Quebec 1870 – 1899

13. Montreal Daily Post Montreal Quebec 1885 – 1888

14. Montreal Daily Witness Montreal Quebec 1870 – 1879

15. Montreal Gazette Montreal Quebec 1860 – 2010

16. Morning Chronicle Quebec City Quebec 1840 – 1879

17. Quebec Daily Telegraph Quebec City Quebec 1880 – 1979

1. Age Melbourne 1854 – 1989

2. Age Melbourne 1840 – 2010

3. Sydney Mail Sydney 1860 – 1939

4. Sydney Morning Herald Syndey 1820 – 2010

British Periodicals

Once can do some serious historical investigation of the early periodical press in England with this latest Penn Libraries e-resource addition.

About British Periodicals:

British Periodicals traces the development and growth of the periodical press in Britain from its origins in the seventeenth century through to the Victorian ‘age of periodicals’ and beyond. On completion this unique digital archive will consist of more than 460 periodical runs published from the 1680s to the 1930s, comprising six million keyword-searchable pages and forming an unrivalled record of more than two centuries of British history and culture….In addition to providing access to the original periodical versions of landmark texts like De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus, Cobbett’s Rural Rides, Bagehot’s The English Constitution, Gaskell’s North and South and Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, the collection offers new ways of exploring the inaccessible, neglected or forgotten writings that formed their original contexts. A wide array of different types of periodical are represented, from magisterial quarterlies and scholarly and professional organs through to coterie art periodicals, penny weeklies and illustrated family magazines.

Daedalus Issue on Future of News

Daedalus, the Journal of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, flies under the radar when we think of Communications journals but I like to keep an eye on it and this latest issue devoted to the future of news is case in point for doing so. Still another reason is you’ll find Professor Kathleen Hall Jamison and PhD candidate Jeffery A. Gottfried in this issue imparting lessons for the news industry from the 2008 Presidential campaign. See the Penn Libraries homepage for e-access to the journal.

Daedalus (Vol. 139, issue 2: April 1, 2010):

Political observatories, databases & news in the emerging ecology of public information, by Michael Schudson
What is happening to news?, by Jack Fuller
The Internet & the future of news, by Paul Sagan and Tom Leighton
The Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education: improving how journalists are educated and how their audiences are informed, by Susan King
Does science fiction-yes, science fiction-suggest futures for news?, by Loren Ghiglione
Are there lessons for the future of news from the 2008 presidential campaign?, by Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Jeffrey A. Gottfried
New economic models for U. S. journalism, by Robert H. Giles
Sustaining quality journalism, by Jill Abramson
The future of investigative journalism, by Brant Houston
The future of science news, by Donald Kennedy
International reporting in the age of participatory media, by Ethan Zuckerman
The case for wisdom journalism-and for journalists surrendering the pursuit of news, by Mitchell Stephens
News and the news media in the digital age: implications for democracy, by Herbert J. Gans
Journalism ethics amid structural change, by Jane B. Singer

Death of the News (MIT World Panel)




Death of the News?

March 2, 2010

While not dead, the U.S. news industry is severely depleted and likely to diminish further, these panelists agree. But they also believe that something vibrant and enduring might emerge from this period of digital disruption.


Jason Pontin

Editor in Chief and Publisher, Technology Review and

Susan Glasser

Executive Editor, Foreign Policy

Maria Balinska

Ruth Cowan Nash Nieman Fellow, Harvard University

Event Host

Center for International Studies

Center for International Studies

I’ve pointed out MIT World’s section on Media a while back. Time for another shout out for its interesting speakers and topics on all aspect of the media. This video is available for viewing at the site along with 78 others.