Media coverage of Madagascar part II

The previous post on the subject of media coverage of the crisis in Madagascar was too long and the graphs were a bit confusing. I guess that's what happens when you have a subject worth looking into but you don't know the right tools to do it the right way.

Enter people who know.

I was kindly invited along with many others contributors to Global Voices to attend the WeMedia conference:
" It’s about how we know what we know, whether through journalism and the shifting systems used to produce it, through social networks and our personal connections to people and organizations we trust"
I won't give a recap of the conference because so many smarter people already did
But for how I feel about it, read Rebekah, Leonard and Jeremy's take.

I also got to pick Lokman's brain quite a bit while at the conference. We were roommates so he did not have much of a choice there. Lokman is a brilliant UPenn PhD candidate who will write his thesis on Global Voices and is now based at the Berkman center at Harvard.

He was curious about Madagascar and the current events so I tried to give him my perspective, for what it's worth. We acknowledge the relative lack of in-depth coverage ( although slightly better than before, in my opinion) in the western media and got to talk about how to evaluate in a rigorous manner the coverage of countries through the scope of global media.

Lokman showed me the project Media Cloud that strives to "collect and analyze the daily flow of news stories from a wide variety of traditional and new media sources." and led by Stephen Schultze.

They have plenty of really cool tools to offer and even though Schultze warned that "the system is still in the early development", the potential visualizations of the media landscape got me really intrigued. We say that our part of the world is often ignored or depicted the wrong way, well let's find out.

My Malagasy-centric mind had to look up how Madagascar was depicted in the news media. So I keyed in Madagascar for the NYT, BBC and FOX NEWS:

[Note: let's keep in mind that today's events in Madagascar included: a call for a national strike, barrages planted around the city, heavy military presence, a micro-credit building on fire, tear gas launched and bodies found downtown Tana ]

(Click on link above for better vizualisation)

By now, no one should be surprised that Madagascar is often associated with the movie industry. We need to move past that if we are to make progress in country "branding".

Still, if you don't know who Paul Dergarabedian is ( name most often linked to Madagascar by Fox news) , he is the the "brains and the voice of the Hollywood horse race" aka Mr Box-Office, the one crunching the numbers on who won and who lost in Hollywood.

While the first people to be associated with Madagascar on the NYT and BBC were Marc Ravalomanana or Andry Rajoelina (aka TGV) , FOX News got Mr Box-Office. I try not to be biased agaisnt Fox News but after the number they put during the US presidential campaign about Obama, I am just moderately surprised by this finding. Hey, at least it's not Ben Stiller right ? I am now perfectly comfortablestating that Fox News is hardly a source of news, at least international news. (The next person mentioned is Reese Witherspoon. Just sayin')
Maybe that's OK. Maybe Fox News should stay indifferent about the rest of the world and just concentrate on being "fair and balanced" with respect to US news.

the NYT and ther BBC deemed the events in Madagascar serious enough to send their own reporters on site so no they do not suffer from the general indifference that seem to plague Fox News and the likes.

If we continue the query with other organizations that I know wrote many updates on the situation in Madagascar: Voice of America , Reuters and Global Voices ( hey, one needs to be able to face criticism right?)

One would say 2 things:

1) Rajoelina does not appear in both Reuters and Global Voices coverage. Ha ! Bias you say ! Well, maybe. Let's see,

a) Reuters and GVO never mention Rajoelina
b)OR Reuters and GVO coverage of Madagascar both have sufficient materials about Madagascar for the past few years (before the rise of Rajoelina) that his name does not break the top 10 words barrier yet.

2) I would also like to present as evidence that the Daewoo land deal that is mentioned by Rajoelina as the number one reason for wanting Ravalomanana out appears in the top 10 words of GVO, unlike any other news services.

One thing that you can certainly not blame Reuters or GVO of is indifference towards international media.

If you plug in most other news media, they come up empty for Madagascar except for Time Magazine who has an interesting list of top words including: depression, biofuels, corporate giant, Ethiopia, UN food and South Korea.

The feature is not available yet for other languages but it would be very interesting to see what publications in other languages would look like.

Finally, just for kicks: maps of the globe as covered by GVO and Fox News.

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