GDELT

Mapped: Every Protest on the Planet Since 1979

Check out these incredible maps documenting every major protest from around the world since 1979.

The Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) tracks news reports and codes them for 58 fields, from where an incident took place to what sort of event it was (these maps look at protests, violence, and changes in military and police posture) to ethnic and religious affiliations, among other categories. The dataset has recorded nearly 250 million events since 1979, according to its website, and is updated daily.

John Beieler, a doctoral candidate at Penn State, has adapted these data into striking maps, like the one above of every protest recorded in GDELT – a breathtaking visual history lesson. Some events to watch for as you scroll through the timeline:

  • Strikes and protests in response to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s economic reforms.
  • Poland lighting up through the 1980s while Cold War-era Eastern Europe stays dark.
  • The escalation of apartheid protests in South Africa in the late 1980s.
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of protests in Eastern Europe preceding the end of the Soviet Union.
  • Protests in Iraq coinciding with Operation Desert Storm in early 1991.
  • The explosion of protests in the United States since 2008 – think Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party movements.
  • Iran’s Green Movement protests after the presidential election in 2009.
  • The Arab Spring, with protests stretching across North Africa and the Middle East starting in 2011.
  • The persistence of protests in perennial hot spots like Kashmir, Tibet, and Israel and the West Bank.

Data Mining Reveals How News Coverage Varies Around the World

Last year, the news media reported on 195,000 disasters around the world. The ones you heard about depend crucially on your location.

One interesting question about the nature of news is how well it reflects the pattern of real events around the world. It’s natural to assume that people living in a certain part of the world are more likely to read, see and hear about news from their own region. But what of the international news they get—how does that compare to the international news that people in other parts of the world receive?

Today, we get an answer to these questions thanks to the work Haewoon Kwak and Jisun An at the Qatar Computing Research Institute in Qatar. These guys have analyzed the news agendas in different parts of the world to see how the coverage reflects actual events in other parts of the world. And to visualize the different news agendas, they’ve created cartograms to reflect the coverage. These are maps in which the land area of a country is distorted by the amount of news coverage it receives in a given region (the image above shows how international news is viewed in North America).

Kwak and An begin with a database of 195,000 disasters that occurred between April 2013 and July 2014 and which were reported by more than 10,000 news outlets around the world. They noted the country in which each news outlet was based and then counted the published stories from other parts of the world. Finally, for various regions, they created a map of the world showing where the news was from.

The maps make for interesting viewing. They clearly show how the news agenda differs across the planet. Unsurprisingly, people in south Asia consume far more news about disasters in that region than people in North America, for example. And people in Latin America consume far more news from Argentina than Europe.

More interesting are the anomalies. For example, people everywhere consumed relatively large amounts of news from Egypt and Syria, mainly about the unrest in these countries and the accompanying humanitarian crises.

Kwak and An go on to investigate the factors that determine why people in one part of the world view disaster news from another. They found, for example, that population size is significant. People in all regions are more likely to see disaster news from other large countries, probably because there are more likely to be immigrants from those large countries who provide demand for that kind of coverage.

But by far the biggest factor that determines news coverage is whether an international news agency, such as Reuters, or Associated Press, covers the disaster. That’s unsurprising given that most news outlets have subscriptions to one or more agencies and are therefore able to use their stories easily. This is the primary mechanism behind the way news stories sometime snowball around the world.

Interesting work that reveals the way patterns of news coverage change around the globe.

Ref: http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.3710: Understanding News Geography and Major Determinants of Global News Coverage of Disasters

via http://www.technologyreview.com/view/532036/data-mining-reveals-how-news-coverage-varies-around-the-world/

Abstract: In this work, we reveal the structure of global news coverage of disasters and its determinants by using a large-scale news coverage dataset collected by the GDELT (Global Data on Events, Location, and Tone) project that monitors news media in over 100 languages from the whole world. Significant variables in our hierarchical (mixed-effect) regression model, such as the number of population, the political stability, the damage, and more, are well aligned with a series of previous research. Yet, strong regionalism we found in news geography highlights the necessity of the comprehensive dataset for the study of global news coverage.

pdf: http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.3710

The GDELT crew just announced the launch of their experimental Global Knowledge Graph (GKG), which “attempts to connect every person, organization, location, count, theme, news source, and event across the planet into a single massive network that captures what’s happening around the world, what its context is and who’s involved, and how the world is feeling about it, every single day.” Wow. It’s going to be fun to see how this gets used and evolves.

See here for Andrew Halterman’s R tools for GDELT and the GKG.