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Magazines > Online > May/June 2003
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Online Magazine
Vol. 27 No. 3 — May/June 2003
FEATURE
Analyze That: LexisNexis Media Analyzer
By Hal Kirkwood

EXPERIENCED BUSINESS researchers know how difficult it is to track press coverage of companies. Getting an overall count of how many times the company was mentioned in the press has been getting steadily easier as more publications appear in electronic form. Ascertaining the slant of these articles—whether they treat the company in a positive, negative, or neutral way—remains a challenge. Help is on the way, thanks to Media Analyzer.

Media Analyzer, a new offering from LexisNexis, is a joint venture with CARMA International, Inc., a global media analyst firm. Media Analyzer's purpose is to "measure media coverage for more than 700 global companies and 28 industry sectors from 85 domestic and international sources with links to the full text." Using Media Analyzer you can study both the quality and quantity of coverage for a specific company across the selected group of media sources. The database boasts over 400,000 articles analyzed at the time this article was written.

You can also benchmark a company against its competitors, its sector, or all companies. The company's stock price, when available, can be overlaid to compare how the media's coverage may or may not be affecting the stock price. You can also focus in on a specific corporate topic or a specific sector to determine what trends are taking place in the media's coverage.

RATING FAVORABILITY

LexisNexis and CARMA imMEDIAte, a division of Carma International Inc., formed an alliance to integrate their individual strengths in a new database. Carma brought its expertise in researching media coverage from across the globe while LexisNexis brought its full-text content.

The key piece of Media Analyzer is the Favorability Rating. The Favorability Rating is a score displayed as a weekly line graph that charts the course of a given company (or sector or topic) up or down based on how it scored in the articles that week. Analysts assign each article a score between 0 and 100 using a pre-determined set of criteria designed to eliminate subjectivity. The points are awarded or subtracted from a neutral 50 based on this pre-determined criteria. Each article is analyzed based on the following:

• Headline of the story

• Length and placement of the story

• Photos and graphics associated with the story

• Number and quality of sources quoted in the story

• Positive and negative messages articulated in the story

• Language used by the journalists and general tone of the story

Articles are screened in their native languages. Shown are 52 week high and low scores. The Favorability Rating is the unique value-added component of Media Analyzer. This rating provides a layer of knowledge that was previously difficult, if not impossible, to obtain at this scope.

COMPANIES

Selecting a company from the Company list presents the user with an array of information and analysis. A weekly line graph of the Favorability Rating is provided along with a bar graph displaying the weekly volume of coverage in the media. The time frame can be set at "last 8 weeks," "last 16 weeks," "last 32 weeks" (default), and "last 56 weeks." The scope of coverage can also be controlled by selecting Global, North America, Latin America, Europe, or Asia-Pacific. This allows users to focus on how a company's activities are being covered within regional publications. Each graph is clickable and allows you to burrow into a specific week and review the list of headlines with links to the available full text. The headlines are presented within a small pop-up window.

Two other areas on the Companies screen are News Topics Driving Company Coverage and Media Outlets Driving Company Coverage. The News Topics consist of a non-clickable list in rank order by volume of coverage listing such topics as Earnings/Finances, Management, Labor/Employee Relations, and Partnerships/Ventures. The Media Outlets list is the top three volume leaders for the selected company. Both lists are color-coded black (neutral), red (negative), or green (positive) for the coverage of the company. These sections of the Companies screen provide you with greater detail about the companies' recent activities and which media are specifically targeting the selected companies' activities.

Additional options include charting the 50-day moving average for the Favorability Rating and plotting the stock price to compare to the Favorability Rating. You are also able to compare the selected companies Favorability Rating to a sector rating or to another specific company rating. This compares both Favorability Rating and Total Volume for the two selected companies and sectors. Only the primary company headlines can be selected in the rating or volume graphs.

COMPETITIVE BENCHMARKING

The Competitive Benchmarking option presents the user with the functionality to compare a company with up to six selected competitors, to its peer (or any sector) group, or to all 700 companies covered by Media Analyzer. Region and Time Frame are again available options for manipulating the graph.

In another example of the value-added nature of Media Analyzer, you can view a plotted graph that visually places the company in relation to other companies. This information is displayed on a graph plotting each company along an x (Favorability) and a y (volume of articles) axis.

In addition to focusing on specific companies, you can use Media Analyzer to analyze the Favorability Rating for an entire sector. Among the 28 sectors are Chemicals, Leisure, Retail, and Utilities. The information is presented in a similar format to the Companies screen with 52 week high-low information and a weekly volume bar graph. A similarity to the Companies screen is a (unclickable) list of the top news topics driving the sector coverage while a difference is a list of the top three companies driving the sectors' coverage.

NEWS TOPICS

The News Topics screen is identical to the Sectors screen, the major difference being the ranked (unclickable) list of 10 companies driving the coverage in the selected topic area. Included in the 30 News Topics are Acquisitions/Spin Offs, Earnings/Finances, Products/Services, and Technology/R&D.

Media Analyzer provides access to its information from the media perspective by allowing the user to select one of the 85 media sources and plot how it covers the News Topics, Sectors, or Companies by Sector. The information is presented in a pie-chart format. Selecting a slice of the pie pops open a separate window showing a list (unclickable) of the News Topics (or Sectors or Companies) and the total volume of articles for each subtopic. A list of the Leading Companies in descending order by volume is presented. However, it is unclickable as well.

MEDIA ANALYZER'S USEFULNESS

The Weekly Favorability Rating graph and the Weekly Volume of Articles graph can be downloaded in a spreadsheet format. This feature makes it easy to compare the data to other elements you have acquired elsewhere. It is also possible to format the graphs for printing or e-mailing to yourself.

The Help section consists of a FAQ and a Help Index to resolve problems and to provide additional information on facets of Media Analyzer. It is straightforward to use. There is no contextual help built into the interface, but the Media Analyzer interface does not really warrant it.

Help also contains detailed information on the methodology of the Media Analyzer process and the Favorability Rating using some basic concept map techniques to provide some insight into the process of analyzing the articles and rating the companies.

PROBLEMS

At first glance, the screens feel a bit cluttered and condensed to me. LexisNexis provides a border of white space to each side and below, which is generally beneficial for on-screen viewing. My own desktop settings favor smaller fonts. I would imagine that some users might find that Media Analyzer packs an abundance of information into a rather small area.

There is awkwardness about what is clickable to delve deeper into the information and what is not. It was frustrating at times to leave one section and move to another to obtain information across the primary areas: Companies, Sectors, News Topics, and Media. Improving the cross-linking would greatly improve Media Analyzer.

COMING SOON

The home page of Media Analyzer has a section labeled "Coming Soon." It highlights future directions and additions to the database. These currently include: CEO Reputation Measurement, Immediate Analysis White Papers, and the addition of more companies.

Media Analyzer is a new and interesting company and media database from LexisNexis. Its ability to analyze both textually and graphically how media sources cover companies, sectors, and news topics will find many practical applications in business, communications, and journalism. Tracking bias by a publication or by a region and tracking how a company's media coverage can influence its stock price are just a few examples of how this database might be utilized. I recommend that libraries and information centers with needs in business and communications evaluate this product. It may provide them with a source of information that was previously very tedious to collect and perhaps impossible to consistently create on their own.

Media Analyzer will be a useful supplemental database to other company and full-text journal databases. The value-added information makes it unique and presents users with a new set of data to add to their toolkit when evaluating companies or tracking a story across multiple publications. Media Analyzer is also another database that is presenting the information in a variety of graphics and charts. This is a direction toward which many databases are beginning to further move. This trend toward visual information will continue as the upcoming generation of users demands it.

 


Hal Kirkwood [kirkwood@purdue.edu] is instruction coordinator, Management & Economics Library, Purdue University.

Comments? E-mail letters to the editor to marydee@xmission.com.


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