Before I describe the results, let me first say that the problem observed by commenter tblade on Universal Hub -- full-text searches turning up too many passing references to alumni, sports, etc. that naturally favor the big private universities over UMass Boston. This issue is I have been aware of since starting my own LexisNexis research on Xinhua/NCNA content relating to Vietnam. Full-text searches in 1970s Xinhua content turns up a lot of passing references to Vietnam, i.e., the ambassador from Vietnam being mentioned in passing, in the last paragraph about a banquet celebrating China's National Day. My solution in the second-stage data collection (Yoshioder sampling): Restrict searches to the headline, which gets articles that are really focused on the issue, rather than mentioning it in passing in the fourth paragraph. So, for the UMass LexisNexis searches, I restricted the results to headline references only (with one exception, described toward the bottom of this post).
There was also another potential problem with the original LexisNexis research conducted by the UMass group complaining about Boston Globe's coverage of their school: The methodology is described as follows:
full text Lexis-Nexis search on the names of each of the 4 private colleges for articles of all types appearing in the Boston GlobeDoes that mean the group only entered one name for each college/university in the LexisNexis search field? If the answer is yes, the searches will be flawed owing to the fact that the schools often have more than one name (i.e., formal and nickname) and headline writers try to use the short version whereever possible. In other words, if you conducted a search for "Boston University," but not BU, you'd miss almost every reference to Boston University, because headline writers for the Globe use "BU" most of the time. So, in my searches, I used multiple terms -- "Boston University" or "BU".
My results were naturally much smaller, mainly because of the headline restriction, but I think they support the UMass group's initial observation. There is an undeniable disparity in the Boston Globe's coverage of local colleges and universities. That doesn't mean that the other UMass student (tblade) who questioned their use of LexisNexis is wrong, however. In his two comments on the Universal Hub thread, he did have some valid points about the nature of what makes news, and why the private schools will get more coverage from the Globe.
OK, without further ado, my results, which I have also submitted to Universal Hub:
Good point, tblade, but I think the UMass student group is onto something here. I used LexisNexis Academic to restrict the articles to those that mentioned the schools in the headline, which screens out most of the passing references to alumni, sports, etc., and instead concentrates on legitimate coverage of college/university-related issues. Here's the ranking, for 1/1/2006 to 9/10/2006:One important note about these LexisNexis searches: I did not restrict by section or by the Globe's two higher education reporters. This resulted in an especially large number of "hits" for BC, which has strong football and basketball teams that are frequently mentioned in the Globe's sports section.
"Boston College" or "BC" in headline - 187
"Harvard" in headline - 170
"Boston University" or "BU" in headline - 62
"Northeastern University" or "NU" or "Northeastern" in headline - 47
MIT or "Massachusetts Institute of technology" in headline - 47
"University of Massachusetts at Boston" or "UMass Boston" in headline - 4
UMass in headline, and "University of Massachusetts at Boston" or "UMass Boston" in the full text, but not Dartmouth or Lowell or Amherst in full text (this allows for the short version of UMass in headline, which copy editors and editors prefer, but the article is about UMass Boston, as opposed to UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, and UMass Dartmouth) - 11
"Framingham State" in headline - 2
Nevertheless, I'd be very interested in finding out what the Boston Globe and its two higher-ed reporters, Marcella Bombardieri and Sarah Schweitzer, have to say about the results of the LexisNexis searches, and the complaint raised by The Concerned Members of the UMass Boston College of Public and Community Service.