Historical Washington Post

The latest big national national newspaper to be added to our digital historical newspaper offerings is The Washington Post, (1877-1993), Proquest Historical Newspapers. (Lexis Nexis and Newsbank carry the paper from 1977 to the present so no worries about access to the last couple decades). From the publisher:

Known for its comprehensive political reporting, first-rate photo essays, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writing, and unmatched investigative reporting, the historical Washington Post (1877-1993) is an unparalleled resource for today’s budding journalists, political historians, and students of government. The Post was the first newspaper in Washington to publish seven days a week. Early contributors included Joseph Pulitzer and a relatively unknown, unbylined Theodore Roosevelt, who contributed stories about the West. Beginning in the 1940s, the newspaper featured editorial cartoonist Herbert L. Block (“Herblock”), who used his drawings to express indignation with political leaders and to “raise hell.” He coined the term “McCarthyism” in the 1950s and was unrelenting in his graphic characterization of Richard Nixon. This newspaper is perhaps most famous for a series of stories that began with a break-in at the Watergate office complex in 1972. When it was all over, reporters Woodward and Bernstein were household names, and President Nixon had resigned in disgrace.

As with all our Proquest Historical Newspapers (The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Defender, Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Courier, Philadelphia Tribune, New York Amsterdam News, Times of India, and Wall Street Journal) one can not only view news articles but also photos, advertisements, marriage announcements, obituaries, cartoons, and more, for added context.

Good Things From Pew

The Pew Research Center’s s Project for Excellence in Journalism has just released its eighth report, State of the News Media 2011

Among this year’s e features is a report on how American newspapers fare relative to those in other countries, the status of community media, a survey on mobile and paid content in local news, and a report on African American media. Each year the Report identifies key trends. Six stand out entering 2011:

  • The news industry is turning to executives from outside. The trend has a scattered history. The complex revenue equation of news — that it was better to serve the audience even to the irritation of advertisers that paid most of the bills — tended to trip up outsiders. It spelled the end, for instance, of Mark Willes at Times Mirror when he let advertisers dictate content. With the old revenue model broken, more companies are again looking to outsiders for leadership. One reason is new owners. Seven of the top 25 newspapers in America are now owned by hedge funds, which had virtually no role a few years ago. The age of publicly traded newspaper companies is winding down. And some of the new executives are blunt in their assessments. John Paton, the new head of Journal Register newspapers told a trade group in December: “We have had nearly 15 years to figure out the web and, as an industry, we newspaper people are no good at it.” A question is how much time these private equity owners will give struggling news operations to turn around. One of these publishers told PEJ privately that he believed he had two years.
  • Less progress has been made charging for news than predicted, but there are some signs of willingness to pay. The leading study on the subject finds that so far only about three dozen newspapers have moved to some kind of paid content on their websites. Of those, only 1% of users opted to pay. And some papers that moved large portions of content to subscription gave up the effort. A new survey released for this report suggests that under certain circumstances the prospects for charging for content could improve. If their local newspaper would otherwise perish, 23% of Americans said they would pay $5 a month for an online version. To date, however, even among early adopters, only 10% of those who have downloaded local news apps paid for them (this doesn’t include apps for non-local news or other content). At the moment, the only news producers successfully charging for most of their content online are those selling financial information to elite audiences — the Financial Times is one, the Wall Street Journal is another, Bloomberg is a third — all operations aimed at professional audiences, which means they are not a model that will work for general interest news.
  • If anything, the metrics of online news have become more confused, not less. Many believe that the economics of the web, and particularly online news, cannot really progress until the industry settles on how to measure audience. There is no consensus on what is the most useful measure of online traffic. Different rating agencies do not even agree on how to define a “unique visitor.” Does that denote different people or does the same person visiting a site from different computers get counted more than once? The numbers from one top rating agency, comScore, are in some cases double and even triple those of another, Nielsen. More audience research data exist about each user than ever before. Yet in addition to confusion about what it means, it is almost impossible get a full sense of consumer behavior — across sites, platforms, and devices. That leaves potential advertisers at a loss about how to connect the dots. In March 2011, three advertising trade groups, supported by other media associations, announced an initiative to improve and standardize confusing digital media metrics called Making Measurement Make Sense, but the task will not be easy.
  • Local news remains the vast untapped territory. Most traditional American media — and much of U.S. ad revenue — are local. The dynamics of that market online are still largely undefined. The potential, though, is clear. Already 40% of all online ad spending is local, up from 30% just a year earlier. But the market at the local level is different than nationally and requires different strategies, both in content creation and economics. Unlike national, at the local level, display advertising — the kind that news organizations rely on — is bigger than search, market researchers estimate. And the greatest local growth area last year was in highly targeted display ads that many innovators see as key to the future. Even Google, the king of search, sees display as “our next big business,” as Eric Schmidt, its CEO, told the New York Times in September.
  • The nature of local news content is also in many ways undefined. While local has been the area of greatest ferment for nonprofit startups, no one has yet cracked the code for how to produce local news effectively at a sustainable level. The first major concept in more traditional venues, the push toward so-called “hyperlocalism,” proved ill-conceived, expensive and insufficiently supported by ads. Yahoo!’s four-year old local news and advertising consortium has shown some success for certain participants but less for others. There are some prominent local news aggregators such as Topix and Examiner.com, and now AOL has entered the field with local reporting through Patch. Whether national networks will overtake small local startups or local app networks will mix news with a variety of other local information, the terrain here remains in flux.
  • The new conventional wisdom is that the economic model for news will be made up of many smaller and more complex revenue sources than before. The old news economic model was fairly simple. Broadcast television depended on advertising. Newspapers depended on circulation revenue and a few basic advertising categories. Cable was split — half from advertising and half from cable subscription fees. Online, most believe there will be many different kinds of revenue. This is because no one revenue source looks large enough and because money is divided among so many players. In the biggest new revenue experiment of 2010, the discount sales coupon business led by Groupon, revenue can be split three ways when newspapers are involved. On the iPad, Apple gets 30% of the subscription revenue and owns the audience data. On the Android system, Google takes 10%. News companies are trying to push back. One new effort involves online publishers starting their own ad exchanges, rather than having middlemen do it for them. NBC, CBS and Forbes are among those launching their own, tired of sharing revenue and having third parties take their audience data.
  • The bailout of the car industry helped with the media’s modest recovery in 2010. One overlooked dimension in the year past: A key source of renewed revenue in news in 2010 was the recovery in the car industry, aided by the decision to lend federal money to save U.S. carmakers. Auto advertising jumped 77% in local television, 22% in radio and 17% in magazines. The other benefactor of the news industry, say experts, was the U.S. Supreme Court: Its Citizens United decision allowing corporations and unions to buy political ads for candidates helped boost political advertising spent on local television to an estimated $2.2 billion, a new high for a midterm campaign year.

Make sure you check out Who Owns the Media (a section of this year’s State of the Media), an interactive database of companies that own news properties in the United States. You can use this site to compare companies, explore each media sector, or read profiles of individual companies.

Aanother new report of note from Pew is: How mobile devices are changing community information environments by Kristen Purcell, Lee Rainie, Tom Rosenstiel, Amy Mitchell.

Fame, Fortune, and Fitness at the Academy Awards

Here’s a different take on the Oscars, some 2007 research that looks at the Academy Awards competition through the lens of evolutionary fitness (need I say Natalie Portman?). From the Journal of Ethology, Volume 25, No. 2.

Fame, fortune, and fitness at the Academy Awards
by Mark E. Hauber

People across many societies routinely participate in physical or intellectual competitions in the absence of immediate substantial monetary or other apparent material rewards. But increased fame and social status associated with awards, such as the “Oscars”, need not be necessarily and solely a cultural construct unrelated to natural selection. Rather, prizes might be badges of honor if they are also honest indicators of evolutionary fitness. Analyses of reported reproductive success data, from a survey of well-known female and male actors, followed previously reported patterns of biological fitness in this sample of a human population. In addition, the numbers of Academy Awards received for acting were positively associated with reported numbers of biological children for both genders. The association of increased fitness with more awards received was statistically consistent even when considering that this subset of the population conformed to the Bateman effect in human reproduction: male actors had a more positive correlation than females between cumulative numbers of married partners and overall numbers of children. Honest signals of reproductive quality that are displayed by both sexes are expected to occur in humans and other species with costly biparental care and mutual mate choice.

International Media and Communication Statistics from NORDICOM

Even the most qualitative researcher from time to time asks me for media use stats and I’m not always able to deliver. “There is a lack of comparative statistics on media communication,” NORDICOM editors point out in the Foreword of their compilation of world media stats. A copy of A Sampler of International Media and Communication Statistics 2010, compiled by Sara Leckner and Ulrika Facht, is available on the web. (We also have a copy in print here in the ASC Library.) The volume provides access, distribution, revenue, and usage numbers the internet, radio, television, and newspapers for countries throughout the world.


It’s a good time to be reading CyberOrient, a open access, peer-reviewed online journal of the virtual Middle East. Started in 2006, the journal is sponsored by the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association and based at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague. In the words of journal Editor-in-Chief, Daniel Martin Varisco:

The main purpose of this electronic journal is to provide a forum to explore cyberspace both as an imaginary forum in which only representation exists and as a technology that is fundamentally altering human interaction and communication. The next generation will take e-mail, websites and instant availability via cell-phones as basic human rights. Internet cafes may someday rival fast-food restaurants and no doubt will profitably merge together in due time. Yet, despite the advances in communication technology real people in the part of the world once called an “Orient” are still the victims of stereotypes and prejudicial reporting. Their world is getting more and more wired, so cyberspace becomes the latest battleground for the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

The current issue features: The Islam-Online Crisis: A Battle of Wasatiyya vs. Salafi Ideologies?; Overcoming the Digital Divide: The Internet and Political Mobilization in Egypt and Tunisia; Beyond the Traditional-Modern Binary: Faith and Identity in Muslim Women’s Online Matchmaking Profiles; New Media and Social-political Change in Iran; e-Islam: the Spanish Public Virtual Sphere, and a book review of Vit Sissler’s Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Discourses in Cyberspace.

International Encyclopedia of Public Health

From the Penn Libraries New & Noteworthy:

IPEH logo

International Encyclopedia of Public Health, a new reference work from ScienceDirect, is now available to Penn readers through the Penn Library Web. IEPH presents lengthy articles, with recommendations on further reading, on:

  • Diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, emerging and reemerging diseases, diet and obesity, infectious diseases, malnutrition and poverty, neurological disorders, reproductive health, and tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
  • Health processes, including aging, at-risk populations, child health, health systems, violence, and policy.
  • Disciplinary contributions to public health, such as anthropology and sociology, economics and finance, occupational health, legal issues, and measurement and modeling.

IEPH is intended to be an “international” reference work: a concerted effort was made to draw examples from different countries and regions and to discuss health systems of countries worldwide. Contributing authors came from 39 countries.

The print version of International Encyclopedia of Public Health (6 volumes, Academic Press, 2008) is available to Penn readers in the Van Pelt Library Reference collection, call number RA423 .I58 2008

The Latinos and Media Project (LAMP)

The Latinos and Media Project (LAMP) is a web-centered organization seeking to serve as a hub of information and resources pertaining to Latinos and the media in the United States, Latin America, and other parts of the world. The site features a modest database of annotated bibliographies of reports, magazine and academic articles, theses and dissertations, and other items. Under Resources you can find a list of links to other related sites and organizations, also links to other academics working in this area. It’s a nice looking site but it looks like it could use more input, and in fact asks: “bring to our attention materials that could be added, including other web sites that should be linked, to some section of the LAMP web site.”

Another website along these lines to check out is the Center for Spanish Language Media Website at the University of North Texas. It’s actually a little more robust with resources and boasts the Journal of Spanish Language Media (in its third year) and State of Spanish Language Media 2009 Annual Report (a 39-page pdf).

BBC Archive: The Gay Rights Movement in the UK

From BBC press release:

The BBC Archive has today released a new collection of material charting the emergence of the gay rights movement in the UK.

This collection, released through the BBC Archive website, brings together TV and radio programmes from news bulletins, documentaries and current affairs programmes, which chart the political and social change in attitudes to homosexuality over the past 50 years. The programmes in the collection feature noted gay rights campaigners including Sir Ian McKellen, Angela Mason of equality charity Stonewall, Peter Tatchell, founder of Outrage! and MEP and former EastEnders actor, Michael Cashman.

The launch of the collection coincides with the release of BBC research findings into the portrayal of lesbian, gay and bisexual people across the BBC’s services.

Programmes include a press conference from 1957 about the Wolfenden Report, which first recommended the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and a Today interview on Radio 4 with MP Leo Abse, whose 1967 bill led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. Two editions from the ground-breaking documentary series Man Alive look at the lives of gay men and women in the late Sixties, while experts debate the pros and cons of the programmes in a follow-up panel discussion, Late Night Line Up.

Other programmes in the collection cover the struggle of coming out, the age of consent, civil partnerships and the protests against Section 28 – the controversial government bill that banned councils from being able to “promote homosexuality” through schools.

Also, see this very detailed report in one of these forms:

Portrayal of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People on the BBC Complete Report (226 pages; PDF)

Summary Report: (37 pages; PDF)

Consultation Report (63 pages; PDF)

Mobile Marvels (Special report in The Economist)

The September 24 issue of The Economist devotes a section to mobile phones in developing countries. The multi-article report is called Mobile Marvels: A Special Report on Telecoms in Emerging Markets. The Economist is available from Penn Libraries’ E-Resources.

In the report:
The mother of invention: How a luxury item became a tool of global development
Up, up and Huawei: Huge strides in China
Beyond voice: New uses for mobile phones
Internet for the masses: Mobile-phone access will soon be universal; the next task is to do the same for the internet