Innovative agenda, unique data and cutting-edge methodology
Global Flows of Political Information (GLOWIN) is a research project that creates the first map of the flows of political information across countries. This is a pioneering research agenda, as social sciences simply do not know the extent to which politically relevant information, as reported in mass media, travels across nations. GLOWIN opens the space for systematic exploration of this important dimension of globalization and international politics long unaddressed.
We combine deep inter-disciplinary theorization with cutting-edge methodology and data collection techniques. Unique empirical data allow for coverage of news from virtually all countries of the world and thousands of online media outlets. We use state-of the-art machine learning algorithms to analyze news text, to map the content and meaning of what media around the world report about foreign nations. To estimate the amount of political information contained in this news, GLOWIN derives an original measure of political information based on insights from information theory.
Our approach in application: War in Ukraine
Since the end of February 2022, we have increased the intensity of our data collection to provide a more detailed picture of media coverage of the war in Ukraine worldwide. We present here a couple of figures with interesting insights.
In the first figure, we visualize news media visibility of the war, including pre-war events, across selected world regions. The measurement is based on automated text analysis of several million news articles translated automatically to English from 63 languages.
Any important insights? While the war is highly prominent in media worldwide, there has been a massive decline in attention paid to it. This decline occurs even though the war itself has not become any less politically relevant. Most importantly, especially for the public and for policy-makers in Central and Eastern European (CEE) states, the war is much less prominent in the public space outside of Europe and the CEE region in particular.
The evidence shows that in West European media, the attention to the war is only around 50% of the attention paid to it in CEE states. Beyond Europe, the attention level is, on average, only around one third of that in the CEE region. A broader political context of these insights is presented in the Peace Research Center Prague Policy Brief 019 ‘The West and Central and Eastern Europe Need to Go South: Emerging Global Blocks and the Russia-Ukraine War‘.
The second figure shows interesting developments in the degree to which the European Union and NATO have been associated with the war in news media. An elaborate theoretical debate on the importance of these findings, and their interpretation, is presented in the article ‘Worldwide Media Visibility of NATO, the European Union, and the United Nations in Connection to the Russia-Ukraine War‘ (CJIR, open access, 2023). The bottom line is that: the concrete, tangible activity of the IOs has a dramatic effect on their media visibility in connection to the war. This has long-term implications for their legitimacy. A broader debate on this is presented in the article itself.
The last figure depicts the main topics associated with the war in media worldwide, based on automated dictionary analysis of the news articles that refer to the war. The methodology behind this analysis is also discussed in the article ‘Worldwide Media Visibility of NATO, the European Union, and the United Nations in Connection to the Russia-Ukraine War‘ (CJIR, open access, 2023). The article also shows how these topics, interestingly, vary over time and across the EU, NATO, and the UN.
Note: Data come from a sample of several million news articles, the exact number varying across the figures. We use sources monitored in GDELT (https://www.gdeltproject.org/) as our basis, but we use website rankings from Amazon Alexa (https://www.alexa.com/) to filter out less frequently visited media. The data comes from news in 64 languages, automatically translated into English. In this analysis, only articles in the national languages of the individual states are used.