How to Monitor the News


This article originally appeared in Issue# 38

How well do local news outlets in your community cover minority issues?

To find out, organize a media monitoring project in a class or discussion group. Just one week of monitoring can surprise you with what's included — and what's left out.

Select one week to monitor. Have one or several people commit to reading one daily paper or watching one local TV news program for the entire week. (Videotaping gives a permanent copy for later review.)

  • Each monitor should count the number and length (in column inches or minutes/seconds of air time) of stories involving minority persons or subjects.
  • Develop a chart to further analyze the coverage by subject matter (crime? sports? business? features?), by significance (page 1? at the end?), and by racial group covered.
  • If possible note if the writer or reporter is a member of the minority group being covered.
  • When the entire group compares results from each monitoring report, patterns, trends — and further questions — will surely emerge. Discussion and analysis could go on for weeks!