Library Notes for Political Science

Teaching resources, news, and links to keep McGill’s Political Scientists informed

Better know a database: World News Connection

Posted by Megan on November 16, 2010

The McGill Library subscribes to many digital newspaper collections, including Lexis-Nexis, Factiva, and Canadian Newsstand (among others!).

One lesser known database is World News Connection, which contains full-text summaries of non-US newspaper articles, both translated and English language sources. The material in WNC is provided to the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) by the Open Source Center (OSC).

In addition, the library has access to FBIS: Foreign Broadcast Information Service Electronic Index, which indexes the F.B.I.S. Daily Report series available on microfiche in the Government Information Service. F.B.I.S. monitors and translates newspapers, periodicals, television and radio broadcasts, and government statements from around the world (World News Connection continues this product.)

Finally, the library also has portions of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1974 – 1996, which are full text translations of news reports. McGill currently has access to Series 1, which contains material published in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

The CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence published an interesting article earlier this year analyzing the scope of the FBIS collection. From the summary:

“The Scope of FBIS and BBC Open Source Media Coverage, 1979–2008”
Kalev Leetaru

“Archival practices of usual news sources constrain scholarship, especially on cross national issues.
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.”

To read the entire article, visit the CSI website.

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