NewsFrames Meeting Minutes: Boston, September 2016

Hello everyone! As promised very recently, NewsFrames has gotten off to a great start and we wanted to let you know what's on tap.

Ivan, Georgia, ElleryJeremy and me as new-kid-on-the-block were graciously hosted from 12 to 16 September by Ethan and our MIT Media Lab friends from MediaCloud to get cracking on this project.

A lot of deep thinking going on? 

Drafting and drafting again, snaps of the GV NewsFrames team process at work.

The discussion was wide-ranging, covering things from the nuts and bolts of MediaCloud tool operations to if and how these tools could offer new directions for GV overall. There are, for example, some very snazzy and powerful things that Media Cloud tools can do. These things can help us better understand the perceptions that “frame” or shape the representations of countries, and they can also enable deep insights into the ways that information and perspectives are produced and shared.

A view of the attention that Mexico received from 20 major sources in 2014

The attention that Mexico received from 20 major newspapers in 2014 according to MediaCloud's Media Meter Focus tool (accessed 19 September 2016)

There are a couple of big challenges — MediaCloud and other large databanks usually involve a significant learning curve that don't offer easy access for new users within a matter of minutes. Moreover, while the technical aspects might be easier for some, the challenge of shaping and framing an investigation into any news media system is something that is much improved by certain kinds of expertise: being able to differentiate between Spanish versus Malagasy, or understanding the particularities of Middle Eastern versus South Asian cultures are critical. So even if you're the kind of person who, like me, gets excited about network diagrams or terms like crawling and spiders, this kind of work is still not going to produce great results working solo.

One analysis of media sources during the Trayvon Martin controversy, Graeff, Erhardt, Stempeck, Matt, AND Zuckerman, Ethan.

A network diagram of media sources involved during a stage of the Trayvon Martin controversy. IMAGE: Erhardt Graeff et al.1

One of the ways forward for NewsFrames is to make sure that it fosters an environment for collaborative brainstorming. Currently we're thinking that NewsFrames Teams, through their Leads/Stewards and Members, will jointly pursue NewsFrames research “investigations.” We also know that we want this tool to support our authors and editors whether or not a team wants to take advantage of MediaCloud tools. In other words, we know that evidence-driven investigation isn't only about leveraging data science or statistical power, but it is most importantly about scoping the possibilities and challenges appropriately to begin with.

In any case, having arrived at concrete ideas for how piloting and testing, as well as continued design, might begin, we ended the week-long sessions feeling energized (especially after the GV meetup on Thursday night!). We'll continue to keep you up to date and be in touch about possible opportunities.

Ivan, Jeremy, Ellery, Ethan, Georgia, and Connie (a.k.a. NewsFrames Gang) at the MIT Media Lab, September 15 2016

Ivan, Jeremy, Ellery, Ethan, Georgia, and Connie at the MIT Media Lab, September 15 2016

Feel free as always to let us know of any questions or feedback, on this thread or also via my email address.

Cheers, Connie


1 Graeff, Erhardt, Matt Stempeck, and Ethan Zuckerman. “The Battle for ‘Trayvon Martin’: Mapping a Media Controversy Online and off-Line.” First Monday 19, no. 2 (January 28, 2014).


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