Middle Eastern News Sources

Report by Naz Keynejad

Final Version Created June 2018

Citation

Keynejad, Naz. “Middle Eastern News Sources.” WhatEvery1Says Project, http://we1s.ucsb.edu. July 3, 2018. http://we1s.ucsb.edu/middle-eastern-sources/.

1. Overview

What is your area(s) of focus?

Asia. This report is focused on the Middle East (UN classfies the areas discussed below as Western Asia and Southern Asia).

Why is this area of focus important to the WE1S corpus?

It’s an area fraught with political/economic/social upheaval, and it’s important to see how humanities fares in these (mostly) oppressive regions

2. Source Scoping Process

How have you been selecting sources for the WE1S corpus? (e.g. collecting from particular databases, using “impact” lists, etc.)

I’ve been using thebigproject hub as a starting point. After compiling a preliminary list of English-language news outlets for each country in the region, I’ve appended the lists through click-throughs and reference links. Our institutional databases have no resources available for this particular region other than government-controlled sources, which I have been avoiding (for now).

If you are using external lists to guide your selection of sources, include links here and indicate who produced them, for what purpose the list was produced, and any potential bias issues involved.

www.thebigproject.co.uk has been my main source. There is no apparent political bias (or bias of any other kind). The website functions as a hub for various world-news lists.

3. Corpus Representativeness

How representative do you think your corpus is? (“Representativeness” can be interpreted and addressed in a number of ways, so tailor it to be most productive for your area.)

Not very, mostly because all sources are at the very least monitored by the government, so they’re content is suspect.

What challenges in achieving representativeness have you encountered?

The challenge with the majority of countries that are governed by autocratic (or at the very least, controlling) regimes is that their internal news agencies are not a) reliable sources and b) primarily concerned with pushing their government’s agendas. This creates a bit of a vacuum in terms of reporting cultural/arts/humanities news stories unless they are specifically targeted to, again, normalize and/or commend the government. The most important challenge is the fact that regardless of their biases, the agencies either have zero articles on humanities, or they are inaccessible as downloadable files. None of the agencies are listed on UCSB databases so there is no archival material available. In some instances, there are a substantial number of articles available on the agency’s website, however, they are restricted to subscriber or are only available via their print editions. What is accessible is also not downloadable in a searchable format and would have to be printed as a PDF and reformatted. These challenges are apparent in all the countries/regions that are not in the “democratic” Global North.

A possible solution to collect some data from these regions is to explore the publications/agencies catering catering to the expat populations as a separate category. This might be a tangential project or would need new categorization in the overall project corpus.

Provide a tally breakdown of the various facets of sources in your area of focus that WE1S is considering as possible measures of overall corpus “representativeness” (for example, by source or media type, nationality, region, political orientation, identification with specific racial, ethnic, and gender audiences, etc.).

Iran

Fars News Agency
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
Has no search results for “humanities”
Technically independent, but still under government influence
Pledged money in the fatwa against Rushdie
No subscription data available
In Farsi, Turkish, Arabic, English
Website: http://en.farsnews.com

Iran News Daily
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
Not listed on Wikipedia
Has 7 total search results for “humanities,” only from 2017/2018
Can access articles either as straight downloads, or look at an entire issue in PDF
http://irannewsdaily.com

IRIB World News
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
Listed on The Big Project, but the link is dead

Iranian Students News Agency
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
In Farsi, English, French, and Arabic
https://en.isna.ir/search?q=humanities&dt=1397%2F01%2F11
13 articles on humanities from May 2006 to January 2018
html only. Not downloadable/accessible for scrubbing

Iran Focus
According to their “About” page, they are an independent, non-profit publication/website
They offer general coverage of the Middle East, but focus on Iran
11 articles on humanities, from 9/8/06 thru 8/30/14
html only. Not downloadable/accessible for scrubbing
Website: http://www.iranfocus.com/en

Islamic Republic News Agency
Clearly a government-sponsored outlet.
Articles are skewed to make the government “look good”
There is an arts & culture section, but the website link defaults to “all news”
11 articles on humanities from January – April 2018 only. No archival materials available
html only. Not downloadable/accessible for scrubbing
Website: http://www.irna.ir/en/

Press TV (Iran)
No info on Lexis
Not on any databse
24/7 programming
Highly politicized
Search function only returns current articles, all of which are political.
http://www.presstv.com

Tehran Times
Clearly a government-sponsored outlet.
Culture section has articles on various Iranian art/media efforts & projects, but it has to be culled individually for articles that might relate to humanities. Keyword search yields no results.
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
http://www.tehrantimes.com

Iraq

All Iraq News Agency
Mostly political/economical focus
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
No results for humanities
Website: http://en.alliraqnews.com

Iraq Daily Journal
Mostly political/economical focus
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
No results for humanities
Website: http://www.iraqdailyjournal.com

Iraqi News
Very political—has sections dedicated to news on ISIS and Daesh
Website is very minimalist and it’s not clear where/how the news is collected
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
Has 3 results for humanities
-Video on ISIS
-Short paragraph on the inauguration of a new building in Karbala University from 9/27/12
-Short paragraph on US university exhibits in the city of Arbil from 10/13/11
Website: https://www.iraqinews.com

Rudaw (Iraq – Kurdistan)
Focused on Kurdish news, but also reports on the Middle East
Culture section has articles on various arts/media projects, but it has to be culled individually for articles that might relate to humanities. Keyword search yields no results.
No info on Lexis
Not on any database
Website: http://www.rudaw.net/english

Arab Nations (minus Egypt)

Jordan Times
Listed as an independent publication funded by the Jordan Press Foundation
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
No search results for humanities
Website: http://jordantimes.com

Kuwait News Agency
Government sponsored; general news on the region
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
No search results for humanities
Website: https://www.kuna.net.kw/Default.aspx

Kuwait Times
Government sponsored; general news on the region
Also available in Arabic and French
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
14 articles on humanities, from 10/15/15 to 1/29/18. No archives
html only. Not downloadable/accessible for scrubbing
Website: http://news.kuwaittimes.net/website/

Al Manar (Lebanon)
Also available in Arabic, French, and Spanish
Highly politicized
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
One article on humanities (relating to the bombing in Aleppo)
html only. Not downloadable/accessible for scrubbing
Website: http://english.almanar.com.lb

The Daily Star (Lebanon)
National newspaper/website. According to their “About” page, it’s owned by a group of investors as well as the founder’s son, Jamil Mroue
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
254 articles on humanities from 10/20/97 to Present
Articles are restricted to subscribers and/or are only available on their print edition
html only. Not downloadable/accessible for scrubbing
Website: http://www.dailystar.com.lb

Libya Herald
Website is glitch-y
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
Established in 2012. Encourages crowd-sourced news reporting. Their “About” page presents it as a politicized site.
2 articles on humanities, only available to subscribers
Website: http://www.libyaherald.com

Oman News Agency
Government operated
Website is wonky.
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
37 articles on humanities (only for the prior 60 days)
Articles have to be manually downloaded via the print-to-PDF function
Website: https://www.omannews.gov.om

Oman Observer
Aggregate news site
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
Has articles on humanities, but it’s hard to determine actual # of articles.
Articles have to be manually downloaded via the print-to-PDF function
Website: http://www.omanobserver.om

Oman Tribune
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
Site under construction
Website: http://www.omantribune.com

Times of Oman
News Service Agency
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
70 articles on humanities. Have to be downloaded manually via the print-to-PDF function
Website: http://timesofoman.com

The Week (Oman)
Weekly newspaper
No info on Lexis
Not on any databases
No articles on humanities
Website: http://www.theweek.co.om

Gulf Times (Qatar)
Daily newspaper
GPPC Dohar, Qatar
Company listed on Lexis
Not on ProQuest
January 1, 2011 to present
Articles have to be downloaded manually via the print-to-PDF function
Website: http://www.gulf-times.com

Qatar News Agency
Listed on Lexis
Not on ProQuest
Has offices in DC + Qatar
Website not functioning
Website: http://www.qna.org.qa

Saudi Gazette
Has offices in DC + SA
Listed on Lexis
Not on ProQuest
136 articles on humanities; 4-18-12 to present
Have to be downloaded manually
Website: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa

7 Days Dubai (UAE)
Founded in 1975
Billed as first English-language Arab paper
Owned by Saudi Research & Publishing Company
Articles available on ProQuest are all political
Search for humanities on website yields a lot of results, but they are filtered using the word “human” so most are irrelevant. Have to go through each article individually to find relevant ones, then download with print-to-PDF
Website: http://www.arabnews.com

4. Reflections

What challenges or difficulties have you encountered in the source selection or collection process? Do you anticipate any challenges emerging from your work going forward?

The biggest challenge is the validity of the sources in terms of content. Again, the majority (if not all) of these sources are monitored by the government, so their ability to provide unbiased journalism is very limited. Note: all of the sources I am researching are internal to the country of origin. In other words, I am not looking at an Iranian publication that is produced in Great Britain, etc.

See above for more details

5. Research Scan

Conduct some preliminary research on the questions or challenges that you provided in sections three and four.

Factual data from these countries is available, but highly suspect. See above for details re. challenges with collecting data on publications in countries that operate under an authoritarian and/or restrictive government

Have other scholars reflected on these issues? Are there publications that address these problems? Has research been conducted on how to overcome these challenges or at least acknowledge them productively?

Still a work in progress. Most of what I have found is based on suspect data or sources from dissident factions overseas.

6. Additional Comments/Reflections

Include any other issues or questions that you have encountered that may not fit into any of the above categories.

There are several issues at play in this particular region:

1) There is very scarce data on humanities in general. Most sources are focused on political/economic issues. Even some educational/institutional sources have very few articles on the humanities, and from what I have seen, focus on articles for STEM fields, tying them back to the oil industry or other economic concerns in the region.

2) The issue of government interference is a significant challenge, because the content is immediately suspect. We can look into publications for each of the representative countries in the region that are published outside their respective territories, but even then, the content might be suspect. This might not affect us too much since we are not concerned with political/economic discourse at this point, but if we are to include this region in our findings, we should explain the problems with sources in originating countries versus those published outside the region.

3) There is very limited to no access to archival material, since these sources are not available through any of our databases. This might be something that we can work through with our subject librarians, and see if they have access to other databases. I am meeting with the ME subject librarian on April 4th, and will discuss options with her.

4) There is no meta data available on any of these sources. Since the countries in question are only accountable to the government, and since most of their governments do not want to share any information that might be perceived negatively, the meta data is broad and generalized (phrases like “we are the largest broadcasting group in …,” etc.)