The Scope of FBIS and BBC Open-Source Media Coverage, 1979–2008

An excellent piece of content analysis on the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) and the Summary of World Broadcasts (SWB), by Kalev Leetaru (Cline Center for Democracy) from latest issue of Studies in Intelligence (Volume 54, Number 1, March 2010).

The Scope of FBIS and BBC Open Source Media Coverage, 1979–2008

Kalev Leetaru

For nearly 70 years, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) monitored the world’s airwaves and other news outlets, transcribing and translating selected contents into English and in the process creating a multi-million page historical archive of the global news media. Yet, FBIS material has not been widely utilized in the academic content analysis community, perhaps because relatively little is known about the scope of the content that is digitally available to researchers in this field. This article, researched and written by a specialist in the field, contains a brief overview of the service — reestablished as the Open Source Center in 2004 — and a statistical examination of the unclassified FBIS material produced from July 1993 through July 2004 — a period during which FBIS produced and distributed CDs of its selected material. Examined are language preferences, distribution of monitored sources, and topical and geographic emphases. The author examines the output of a similar service provided by the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), known as the Summary of World Broadcasts (SWB). Its digital files permit the tracing of coverage trends from January 1979 through December 2008 and invite comparison with FBIS efforts.

Global Media Monitoring Project’s Who Makes the News? Preliminary Report

While the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project’s global, regional and national reports won’t be published until September, 2010, a Preliminary Findings report has just been issued. GMMP is a project of The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) which maps whether and how media representations of women and men have changed since 2005, when they first started systematic tracking.

A bit about GMMP from the website:

What is the GMMP?
The Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) is the largest and longest longitudinal research and advocacy project on gender in the world’s news media. It is unique in involving participants ranging from grassroots community organizations to university students and researchers to media practitioners, all of whom participate on a voluntary basis. The GMMP has two phases. The first is a research phase in which volunteer media monitors all over the world collect data on selected indicators of gender in their local news media, following specified guidelines. The second is the research findings’ application phase which combines advocacy for gender-responsive media policies, capacity-building for gender-responsive media practice and gender-aware citizens’ media literacy.

When does it take place?
Three GMMPs have taken place so far, the first in 1995, the second in 2000 and the third in 2005. The fourth global media research day is set for early November, 2009 when media monitors all the over the world will participate once again in a Media Monitoring Day – a one day massive, global effort to collect data on selected indicators of gender in their local news media. The follow-up data application phase (Phase 2) begins thereafter until 2014. What has the GMMP achieved so far? GMMP research from 1995, 2000, and 2005 shows consistently significant gender imbalances in news media content, news-making context and practice. Women are dramatically under-represented in the news, their voices silenced and contributions negated through stereotyping and invisibilisation. A comparison of the results from the three GMMPs in 1995, 2000 and 2005 revealed that change in the gender dimensions of news media has been small and slow across the 15-year period. As newsmakers, women are under-represented in professional categories. As authorities and experts, women barely feature in news stories. While there are a few excellent examples of exemplary gender-balanced and gender-sensitive journalism, overall there is a glaring deficit in the news media globally, with half of the world’s population barely present.

Will GMMP 2009/2010 make a difference?
The data generated by the monitoring project will provide gender and communication activists with a tool to lobby for more gender-sensitive media and communication policies in their national and regional contexts. The timing of the media monitoring for November means the results will be published in time for key
global processes scheduled for 2010, including the Beijing +15 review and the Millennium Development Goals Review Summit.

How News Happens Study from Pew

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has just released a study on the “news ecosystem” of one city, Baltimore, Maryland. The report, How News Happens: A Study of the News Ecosystem of One American City, looks at all of the outlets that produced local news in the city for one week. One of the more startling findings in the report is that that eight out of ten stories studied simply repeated or repackaged previously published information. These stories then tended to set the narrative agenda for most other media outlets. And while the news landscape is larger and more various than ever, 95% of what the public learns comes from traditional media, particularly newspapers.

The report is full of tables and charts that illuminate findings about the ten specific stories studied, namely the breakdown of news topics across media sectors, the amount of original information by media sectors, and news coverage triggers (government, press, citizen, college/university, spontaneous).

The full report is available at PEJ.

Chicago Tribune 1849-1986, and Other Newspaper News

The Chicago Tribune is the latest historical newspaper option to be added to the Penn Library website. This Proquest database will contain full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue on June 10, 1849 through 1986. Newsbank, also available on the Penn Library website, picks up recent years of the title, 1/1/1985 to the present.

Another newspaper option for those tilted toward more visual content analysis: you now have access to full-image page by page content for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, 2008-current. Historical access to full image content of these titles is also available in Proquest (in the same suite as The Chicago Tribune) but this fills the gap between “historical” image access and Lexis-Nexis, Factiva, or Newsbank article coverage for recent years that does not provide newspaper facsimiles.


McSweeney’s Broadside Valentine to Print Journalism

Leave it to Dave Eggers at McSweeney’s to try to save print journalism (well, DON’T leave it to him, but appreciate his efforts). In the publisher’s own words:




Issue 33 of McSweeney’s Quarterly will be a one-time only, Sunday-edition-sized newspaper—the San Francisco Panorama. It’ll have news and sports and arts coverage, and comics (sixteen pages of glorious, full-color comics, from Chris Ware and Dan Clowes and Art Spiegelman and many others besides) and a magazine and a weekend guide, and will basically be an attempt to demonstrate all the great things print journalism can (still) do, with as much first-rate writing and reportage and design (and posters and games and on-location Antarctic travelogues) as we can get in there. Expect journalism from Andrew Sean Greer, fiction from George Saunders and Roddy Doyle, dispatches from Afghanistan, and much, much more.

The folks at McSweeny’s believe that if newspaper were better, more exciting reads, they wouldn’t be so strapped for readers. Comments blogger Zach Dundas explains from a recent conversation with McSweeny’s publisher Oscar Villalon, “papers need to realize that there are higher, better uses for their tactile, large-format pages than reprinting three-day-old David Brooks columns or intern-written high-school sports gamers. Though you wouldn’t know it to survey the abandoned-looking metal box on the average American city street corner, it is possible to design, shoot, write and edit a forward-thinking newspaper. Witness Mario Garcia’s recent redesign of Germany’s Handelsblatt, or any of Jacek Utko’s striking Eastern European dailies.”

I’ve ordered a copy for Annenberg (for the holidays?). Along these same lines (items to sit down with over a latte between end of year paper writing or grading)… The Onion’s Our Front Pages: 21 Years of Greatness, Virtue, and Moral Rectitude from America’s Finest News Source is also on order.

January update: It came in and it’s fabulous!

Journalism in Crisis

A special issue of The Chronicle Review, the magazine insert of The Chronicle of Higher Education, is devoted to the crisis in journalism. Carlin Romano makes a compelling case for a philosophy of journalism and even outlines how a basic course in such would be constructed. Michael Schudson calls for university-based reporting as a way to keep journalism alive. Other scholars weigh in on the subject of how the academy can help revitalize/rescue the field. The largest piece is made up of 18 voices addressing the effect of a declining news media on higher education.” Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Henry Jenkins, Laura Kipnis, and Stanford Ungar are among the respondents.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, is available as an e-resource from the Library homepage or in paper at the ASC Library.

Citizen Journalism E-Resources

Searcher Magazine does a series on user-generated content and this month’s installment is on citizen journalism. As author Nicholas Tomaiuolo points out, CitJ, is also referred to as open source, grassroots, networked or distributed journalism, so you have a compliment of key words to keep in mind if you’re searching this trend in databases. The full article is available at the ASC Library (see me) but Information Today (publisher) provides a handy list of the urls appearing in the article at its website.

Live Links! These URLs appear in the article:
by Nicholas Tomaiuolo
Instruction Librarian, Central Connecticut State University
Searcher, the Magazine for Database Professionals
Vol. 17, No. 9 • October 2009








Keeping Up with the Shorenstein Center

New 2009 papers from The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University are available, along with their archive of previous papers arranged by date or author going back to 1989.

Recent Papers:

Sandra Nyaira: Mugabe’s Media War: How New Media Help Zimbabwean Journalists Tell Their Story
Rory O’Connor: Word of Mouse: Credibility, Journalism and Emerging Social Media
Eric Pooley:
How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics of Climate Change

The Publications section of the site includes not only Papers for download but Reports and Case Studies. Transcripts and/or video can be found in the News and Events Section for the annual Theodore H. White Lecture. (Rep. John Lewis was the 2008 speaker.)

Most recent Case Study:

Scott, Esther. Crossing the Line: Don Imus and the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team. 2008.


Recent Reports:

Shorenstein Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Character and the Primaries of 2008. 2008
Shorenstein Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
The Invisible Primary — Invisible No Longer. 2008
Donsbach, Wolfgang, and Fiedler, Tom.
Journalism School Curriculum Enrichment. 2008