On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, the US Presidential Election will be held: Republican candidate Mitt Romney will take on sitting President Barack Obama. Earlier this year it was France that chose its new Head of State, François Hollande and, last but not least, Parliamentary elections (Tweede Kamerverkiezingen) are to be held Wednesday next week (12th September) in the Netherlands.
To stay tuned to the political news, I have chosen to focus the present post on a news database, LexisNexis Academic, that can prove crucially relevant to academic research on politics and the news, i.e. (to quote from UvA-ASCoR program group’s page for Political Communication and Journalism) on «the contributions of media and communication to citizens’ perception, knowledge, and understanding of political issues and political and social groups, as well as citizens’ participation in the political arena and their electoral behavior» (see also entries Framing of the News and Political Communication in The International Encyclopedia of Communication).
To explore LexisNexis search options, I have decided for the Pirate Party as topic: having this recently founded international political movement achieved some notoriety in the news mainly thanks to its electoral success in the 2011 Berlin state election (as Piratenpartei). And being the Piratenpartij one of the 21 parties competing in the Dutch elections next week.
Within the specific frame of LexisNexis as search tool, some of the strategies to be addressed here are: the use of AND/OR, phrase searching (search for two or more words next to each other rather than for separate words), searching in different languages, and where to search within a document.
Let’s imagine that we want to know how Dutch daily newspapers have covered the Pirate Party phenomenon in 2012. Take a look at the following print screen (click to enlarge).
After having chosen for ‘Power search’ on LexisNexis homepage (1), what we will need to do according to the aforesaid question (What has been the coverage of the Pirate Party by Dutch daily newspapers in 2012?) is the following:
– define the time limits: ‘after 01/01/2012′. Use the drop menu ‘Specify Date’ (2);
– identify the information source: ‘All Dutch News’. Use ‘Select source’ (3);
– determine where to search (within the journal article). ‘Add Section Search’ (4) offers several options: the one chosen, ‘HLEAD’, «contains the headline, highlight, and lead sections».
– formulate the search query: ‘piratenpartij OR piratenpartei OR pirate party international’ will retrieve any journal article where the Dutch or German or English denomination of the party has been used. LexisNexis treats adjacent words as phrase by default, therefore we don’t need to enter pirate party international in quotation marks (the standard symbol for phrase searching).
The results page is shown in the following print screen (click to enlarge).
To limit the results to newspapers we will use the option ‘Source type’ (5): further refining at title-level (NRC Handelsblad, De Volkskrant enz.) is also possible. More edit/refine options are available (6).
By changing the time limits, the information source (newspapers in another language, or a specific newspaper), where to search within the article, and the corresponding search query (partito pirata OR partito dei pirati OR piratenpartei, should we choose for Italian news) we can adjust the LexisNexis search action to the most different questions.