Global Media Monitoring and Analysis Lab

Media content analysis is not only central to communication as an academic discipline, but also to effective intervention in public policy on media. The Global Media Monitoring and Analysis Lab is a unique and state of the art research facility for critical media analysis and assessment in a digitalized and globalized media environment. The lab allows researchers to systematically capture, archive and analyze multiple broadcast signals from local, national and international sources. Satellite and other broadcasts can be reviewed and indexed using remotely accessible databases, enabling researchers to "plug in" to a wide range of topics and collaborate in creative and innovative ways on research projects concerning the politics of media representation and standards of media performance. Because media monitoring and analysis often necessarily involves multiple participants in comparative approaches, the Lab provides unprecedented opportunities for cross-disciplinary and cross-sector interaction and collaboration among researchers, policy makers, media personnel, and public policy activists.


Dr. Yuezhi Zhao

Dr. Yuezhi Zhao is Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Global Communication and an Associate Professor of Communication at Simon Fraser University. Her current research, a comparative analysis of transnational satellite TV news, is being conducted at the School of Communication’s new Global Media Monitoring and Analysis Laboratory (GMMA Lab). Tentatively titled News Worlds: Constructing Global Orders on Satellite Television, the study examines the news agendas, ideological orientations, and framing of key global issues and events on four global news channels: CNN, BBC World, China Central Television and Al Jazeera. This project follows Dr. Zhao’s intensive recent studies on the evolving structures and processes of Chinese and global communications. It also builds upon her extensive previous work on theories of ideology and discourse, and the institutional and discursive dimensions of North American, Chinese, and global media.

News Worlds: Constructing Global Orders on Satellite Television

            While various processes can (and have) been studied in order to explain globalization, this project is based on the premise that TV news - arguably the most global and influential of media - is important because it both reflects and constitutes competing visions of the rapidly transforming global order. In particular, with the emergence of non-Western transnational media corporations such as Al Jazeera and China Central Television it is critically important to rectify the dearth of empirical research on global satellite TV news and to systematically test competing theories of globalization.
            Employing both quantitative content analysis and discourse analysis, this study compares four global satellite news channels: CNN, BBC World, China Central Television and Al Jazeera. A sample of composite weeks of news taken from the four channels will be studied as well as coverage of three major contemporary global events: the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, the election of President Barack Obama in November 2008, and the ongoing global financial crisis.
            Through careful comparative analysis of the data competing theories regarding the impact of globalization on media will be addressed. Theories about the extent of homogenization versus national/regional differentiation in content and formats, and the extent of US/Western domination versus counterbalancing influence from the Global South will be tested. The study will also be able to probe mass-mediated constructions of popular and elite understandings of the global order, especially the tension in the media’s national and regional bases on the one hand, and their possible role in the formation of a transnational capitalist class on the other.
             A number of research questions guide this project including; How does journalism inform the world about the evolving global order, while simultaneously contributing to the construction, reproduction and contestation of this order? What are the similarities and differences in the range of topics, sources, ideological frames and geographical foci of news on satellite channels from different parts of the world? How do such news services negotiate the conflicting pressures of globalism, regionalism, nationalism and cultural framing?
            It is hoped that the journal articles, presentations and book manuscript that will come out of this project will help to better inform policy-making in national and global media governance and effective civil society interventions in news agendas. This study also holds the potential to contribute to methodological innovations in digitalized televisual content analysis.


Global Media Monitoring and Analysis Laboratory (GMMA Lab)

            The GMMA Lab is a state of the art research facility for critical media analysis and assessment. It was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund grants, as well as contributions from Simon Fraser University (SFU). Consisting of satellite and cable reception units, video servers and backup facilities, as well as 5 networked research stations, the GMMA Lab enables the systematic capturing, digitization, archiving, and analysis of multiple broadcast signals. The lab has served as the backbone for the development of an open source, digital asset management software initiative centered around a unique core set of metadata elements specific to the methodological requirements of computer-assisted content analysis by academics and civil society researchers. The combination of physical lab space with open source, networked software will facilitate the creation of a unique intellectual commons allowing researchers at SFU to collaborate with both local and global counterparts.