Report by Rebecca Baker
Final Version Created June 2018
What is your area(s) of focus?
Mexican (English Language) news sources
Why is this area of focus important to the WE1S corpus?
In the interest of representativeness, we are trying to expand the scope of the corpus beyond the United States.
2. Source Scoping Process
How have you been selecting sources for the WE1S corpus? (e.g. collecting from particular databases, using “impact” lists, etc.)
This has been a challenge, because many of these sources do not seem to exist on any sort of database, they are either small enough to have escaped notice or the English versions of Spanish language major newspapers (with only the official, Spanish version being present in the database). Searching online for lists of links (many of which are now obsolete) was the only way to get any sense of what was out there, and how much. As a result, the quality of the news sources varied widely.
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.
Google searches often proved the best tools to find these hidden links. In addition, I made heavy use of travel lists and news digest sources. A number of these were aimed at American expats and/or businessmen, who tend to be on the moneyed and conservative side.
- “How-to” guide for Americans living in/retiring to Mexico: www.angloinfo.com/how-to/mexico/lifestyle/entertainment/english-language-media
- Latin American Digital Beat (LADB) is a very helpful news digest database for all of Latin America, including a special section just for Mexico: ladb.unm.edu
- Two more politically salient sites that are a mixture of news digest and original reporting:
- Deborah Bonello; editor-in-chief, activist, journalist: www.mexicoreporter.com
- Riviera Maya news, self-identify as non-warfare and “soft” political, pretty regional: www.riviera-maya-news.com
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 terribly representative of Mexico itself. The English-language sources tend to be either guerilla politics (with little metadata, in order to protect the journalists involved) or clearly aimed at non-Mexican visitors/retirees.
What challenges in achieving representativeness have you encountered?
Perhaps because Mexico has a reputation for being dangerous for journalists (2017 Press freedom ranking is 48.97, #147 in the world and considered a “red” zone by Reporters Without Borders), much of the content on the “gringo” sources was highly local: lost dogs, real estate, cultural festivals, etc., to the point where some (i.e. The Gringo Gazette) might not even rightly be called “news.” Mostly, they were designed by and for Anglophone (usually American) expats. My best and most wide-ranging sources were actually news digests translated from Spanish, or news digests about Mexico from major sources like The New York Times.
Additionally, the ability to speak and read in English is often a classed skill in Mexico. Even assuming that the audience for these news sources is not purely foreign, those that would be able to consume them would almost certainly be university-educated, probably middle-to-upper class individuals. Still, some of these are likely to be scholar activists, such as those reading www.mexicoreporter.com
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.).
Print: 3 (Also online)
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 I have encountered here is simply that there is no database (aside from the translated news digest, LADB) that keeps any of these publications. The best I have gotten is online news sources that archive their materials on their website, but there is rarely a systematically efficient way (that I am aware of) of searching/finding/downloading relevant articles.
In addition to the data itself, metadata is also often hard to find. The few sources that did political reporting were extremely cagey with details about their publications, probably in order to protect their journalists.
5. Research Scan
Conduct some preliminary research on the questions or challenges that you provided in sections three and four.
See above. I am also basing some of my claims, especially about English being a “classed” skill, on what I know personally about Mexico; I lived there for several years as an EFL teacher.
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?
LADB probably represents the best English language research into this matter—their site is extremely well organized, and provides a number of links within the articles themselves to establish veracity, etc. It could be worth reaching out to them (they are based out of the University of New Mexico) with information about our project and see what sources they may be using to archive Latin American news. However, since LADB is also a translation project, I doubt that these archives would be in English.
6. Additional Comments/Reflections
Include any other issues or questions that you have encountered that may not fit into any of the above categories.
I strongly suspect that we will run into this problem with all of the non-Anglophone foreign sources that we attempt to bring into the corpus. Perhaps reaching out directly to universities in capital cities could provide more information about if, where, and how English language media might be archived?