Where this data came from. Text from mainstream and alternative newspapers, right-wing television show transcripts, movie scripts, and portions of the congressional record.
In deciding what sources to use for this project, the group decided that a range of source types would best reflect the different cultural spheres, and their particular modes of expression, where conversations on surveillance are taking place.
Our mainstream news sources look at three newspapers (New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post) and two television news programs (CNN and ABC News). The range in date used to search the newspaper sources is from 1970 to 2016, and the television sources range from the mid-1990s to 2016. The search results for CNN and ABC news include all programming that airs on these networks, including morning news programming and international news programs. All five sources were searched by term using Factiva, a database that aggregates news and journal sources. Every source was searched together by search term. The articles were pulled as plain text chronologically, and organized into text files by year (for example: Police 1970).
Our alternative news sources looks at two left-wing media sources that cover the three time periods relevant to our research. The Berkeley Barb was a radical leftist student newspaper published out of UC Berkeley from the 1960s to the 1980s. The corpus for this study is the 50 issues of the Berkeley Barb that make up Volume 19, approximately calendar year 1974. These issues were culled from Independent Voices, an open access collection of alternative media sources. Each full-text issue of the Berkeley Barb was searched by term, and linked in our data spreadsheet to the terms each contained.
Covering the PATRIOT Act as well as the Snowden revelations, is The Indypendent, a New York-based alternative newspaper, with its back issues from 2003 to present online and searchable by keyword. Text was retrieved from The Indypendent, and aggregated by year and by search term, to create one document per term per year.
For conservative news sources, we searched The Internet Archive’s TV News Archive, which has closed caption text of US TV News shows from 2009 forward. The captions are searchable, allowing for episodes to be returned by our surveillance terms. The Glenn Beck Program and The O’Reilly Factor (both on Fox News Channel) were selected for this project, two news programs hosted by notorious conservative television personalities. The Glenn Beck Program (2008–2011) was a highly rated and controversial show, and Beck’s “distorted or inflammatory rhetoric” (as stated by The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz) fueled criticisms that Fox was not a real news organization. The O’Reilly Factor (1996–present) is somewhat less inflammatory, but Bill O’Reilly is a well-known conservative figure. Both of their views are representative of the current conservative political climate, and the years 2009–2015 were captured, covering the aftermath of the PATRIOT Act and the Snowden revelations.
How surveillance is portrayed in popular culture affects public perception and the public’s interaction with surveillance. We thought it important to include this alternative perspective of popular culture to counterbalance the political and journalistic arenas. For popular culture, we used various sources to identify a list of key films depicting surveillance. This included two Wikipedia lists: Mass surveillance in popular culture and Films about security and surveillance. We consulted Garrett Stewart’s recent book, Closed Circuits: Screening Narrative Surveillance, to substantiate the movies on our lists. Finally, we consulted Critical Commons, a public media archive and advocacy network that provides film clips of all subjects for academic view online. Through various online movie script databases, we determined which of the film screenplays were available for download. We included prominent film critic reviews for significant movies about surveillance, such as The Conversation, Minority Report, and Enemy of the State. Three song lyrics on the topic of surveillance were also included. Chapter 7 “Surveillance, Visibility and Popular Culture” of David Lyon’s Surveillance Studies: An Overview provided context regarding surveillance and popular culture.
We searched the Congressional Record for testimony or other items surrounding three periods of interest: 1974–1976, 2000–2002, and 2012–2014. The 1970s era congressional coverage was taken from hearings and other Congressional Record items found by searching each of the key terms in the Congressional Publications database available from the NYPL. The Capitol Words API was used to find items in the Congressional Record from the periods 2000–2002 and 2012–2014 where the search terms appeared. We parsed the documents containing those terms using a customization of the Sunlight Foundation’s Congressional Record parser, to separate the discussion out by individual representative or senator so we could see if their sentiments on topics related to surveillance had shifted over time.