Berkman Center launches new website on media trends

HLS Professor Yochai Benkler

Credit: Phil Farnsworth

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society launched a new Web site called ‘Media Cloud’ in conjunction with Thomson Reuters in July. The goal of Media Cloud is to provide a new search tool that illustrates the nature of news and how information flows between blogs and more traditional news outlets like newspapers.

“While daily newspapers struggle for survival, political, niche and special interest blogs continue to thrive,” said Yochai Benkler ’94, faculty co-director of the Berkman Center. “In the midst of this upheaval, it is difficult to know where stories begin, who sets the agenda, and how these dramatic changes impact news coverage on the whole. We created Media Cloud to help researchers and the public get quantitative answers to these challenging questions.”

Benkler conceived of Media Cloud with Berkman Fellow Ethan Zuckerman. Together, they teamed with Thomson Reuters, which has contributed its Calais Web Service to the effort. That service enables the automatic tagging of relevant people, places, companies, facts and events, to support exploration in relation to the network of media sources. With Media Cloud, users will be able to query this dynamic catalog and generate revealing visualizations to show, for instance, how sources cluster or diverge, where news stories come from, and what new media flows are emerging.

“We are extremely pleased to be working with Harvard University and the Berkman Center in support of this valuable research tool,” said Barak Pridor, CEO, ClearForest, the Thomson Reuters company that produces the Calais Web Service. “Media Cloud will help map the interaction between mainstream media and the blogosphere to reveal how people influence, shape and interact with news stories today.”

Visit the new Media Cloud website.