Introducing Mideastwire

Mideastwire provides daily English-language summaries of key political, cultural, economic, and opinion pieces produced by the media in 22 Arab countries, Iran, and the Arab Diaspora. Although this resource is particularly relevant for faculty and students in Political Science, International Affairs, Journalism, and International Business, it will be of interest to anyone following current developments in the Middle East and Arab world. Automatic delivery of a daily briefing is available through RSS feed or e-mail. To enable e-mail delivery of the daily briefing, send a blank e-mail message to Please note that there are currently some difficulties with delivery to Gmail accounts; Gmail users, please see the following FAQ: A link to RSS feeds is available on the home page of Mideastwire. Additional features include:
  • Links from each translated article to the original news piece which offers users the look and feel of the original news source. Additionally, readers fluent in the language of publication may view the original.
  • Five year archive for issue tracking.
  • Basic and advanced searching of the article archive.
  • Access to the Mideastwire blog.
  • Links to related websites.
  • Alumni access.
Mideastwire enhances international news coverage already provided through other library resources, including, Press Display, Access World News, and Lexis/Nexis Academic.

Online book club @1book140

If you have ever joined a book club you know from experience that it is not easy to coordinate busy schedules, agree on next month’s book, or decide who will be next to host. Northeastern Journalism Professor, Jeffrey Howe, has created a book club that eliminates all of these troubles. Howe’s book club is on Twitter @1book140. The way it works is quite simple. 1book140 selects the book of the month by a majority vote of its Twitter followers. Once a book is selected members tweet their thoughts as they read, abiding by the month’s weekly schedule, and including the hashtag #1book140 so that their comments are collected on the site’s Twitter page. This month, readers have their noses in The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. If you’re interested in joining you can view the weekly reading schedule for June and reserve The Blind Assassin at Snell Library to start your summer reading! For more information about @1book140 read this article from Marketplace Tech Report

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

February may be Black History Month, December may be the ‘Holiday Season,’ June 21st may be the summer solstice, but September will always be, for me, Swedish Mystery Month. Last September I reviewed Henning Mankell’s Firewall on this same blog, and recently I have begun reading the most page-turning mystery I’ve come across since that book– which also happens to be from Sweden. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was written by Stieg Larsson (1954-2004), who died of a sudden heart attack shortly after completing this book and its’ sequel, The Girl who Played with Fire. (Both books are available through NExpress).That Larsson’s death was considered suspicious by some, who suspected a possible murder due to the death threats Larsson received for his left-wing political journalism, is probably untrue though highly (creepily) appropriate in relation to his book. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a book that is infused with the threat of conspiracy and uses the often shady world of news journalism as its’ background. The book is also a compendium of a handful of mystery sub-genres, albeit ones that are so specific they have no names. There is the Financial/Business-Intrigue story, which we are first introduced to when we meet the protagonist Mikael Blomkvist, a wealthy journalist and co-publisher of Millenium magazine, who has recently been sued for libel by a wealthy industrialist and will soon be spending some time in prison. He is at risk of losing his job and Millenium is at risk of going under, both which are causing a rift between him and his publishing partner-cum-lover, Erika Berger. Yet when he is hired by a wealthy, retired capitalist, Henrik Vanger, to investigate the dissappearence of the latter’s niece, his prospects start looking better. Before long Henrik has become a partner of Millenium magazine, although  this partnership as well as his obsession over his missing niece reek of personal agenda. The second sub-genre is the pulpy, blackmail story. In another plot thread, a young girl with  a troubled past has been hired as a reporter at a separate magazine. Her name is Lisbeth Salander, and while own her journalistic expertise is not in question, her own safety, and mental acuity, is. She has been assigned to a new social worker, as her mother is wasting away in a nursing home and she has had many run-ins with the law. But her mistrust of virtually everybody and her disregard of journalistic ethics– she is assigned to do a profile of Mikael Blomkvist– will undoubtedly come in to question. I will not give away the blackmail part or the sensational part of this story, as I do not know where it will end up myself. The third sub-genre is the love-affair scandal story. Blomkvist begins an affair with the daughter-in-law of Henrik Vanger, who lives nearby, alone and lonely. The affair seems innocent, but she may not be. The fourth, and overriding, sub-genre is the murder mystery. Was Vanger’s niece murdered? Is she still alive? Is the murderer still out there? There is evidence that points in all directions. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a bestseller all over Europe in the past two years. It is written by a man who had an authentic background in the profession of journalism, and the writing style itself– while sometimes clumsy– has a journalistic precision to it. Although the title itself may be intriguing enough for a fun mystery read, the original Swedish title–Man Som Hatar Kvinnar— is even better; literally translated as ‘Men who Hate Women.’ There are certainly a few men who hate women in this overwrought, sprawling mystery, and a certain sociological context is always in the background, hinted at by the subtitles below each new ‘part’ of the book. I have not even finished the book myself, so this cannot be considered a true book review, but Stieg Larsson deserves to be read, for his compulsive readability, if nothing else.

New Journalism?

Rebecca’s post and its ideas about how the ways we read and think may be changing led me to want to share a recent article about how journalism is changing in these ways too.  It focuses specifically on the figure of media blogger Jim Romensko, and it’s written by Howell Raines. One quote really stuck out to me:
Newspaper publishers assumed that even if the printing press disappeared, the internet would still have an insatiable need for their basic product-verified facts, hierarchically arranged by importance. But Romenesko’s rapid growth showed that even newsrooms are part of the emerging market for an unprocessed sprawl of information, delivered immediately and with as few filters as possible between the fingertips of one laptop user and the eyeballs of another. In short, it’s not technology per se that’s killing newspapers; it’s plummeting demand for quality information.
What do you think? Sometimes I worry that I too, have developed a taste for new, unverified and immediate information-I feel panicked by the thought that something hugely significant could be happening that I have no idea of, but I must find out about it right away.  Or do you think that Raines has a biased (and possibly bitter) view? Roy Harris, author of Pulitzer’s Gold spoke about the history of public service journalism this spring, as part of the Library’s Meet the Author Series.  He specifically talks about Howell Raines, Gerald Boyd and the Jason Blair scandal.     

Long Form Journalism for Everyone

Newspapers are dying. Century-old papers are shuttering their doors faster than anyone in the industry would have thought even 10 years ago. There are a variety of factors driving this, and no one can say for sure what they are.

But while daily news gathering takes a hit (worry not, it will return in a new incarnation), long form journalism, the type of story that can take months or years to research, is only gaining more and more ground. With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of books that I feel exemplify this format of journalistic endeavor.

Danny’s Picks:

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser. One of the first books I read in this genre, Schlosser’s classic looks at the food industry in America. Focusing on agriculture and the big businesses that thrive in this country, Fast Food Nation is a compelling read. From his ride-alongs with ranchers barely breaking even every year to his anecdote about the meat packer who fell into an industrial vat and died, Schlosser paints a horrifying picture about what we eat, and how it get to us.

****(4 Stars)

The Burning Season, Andrew Revkin. Chico Mendes was an Brazilian intellectual, environmentalist, union leader, and in 1988, martyr for the rubber trade. After Mendes’ death, Andrew Revkin immersed himself in Mendes’ hometown, and researched a thick, but interesting read. With all of the historical background on the rubber trade as well as the cultures of the area, Revkin’s book explains exactly what happened, why, and how it can be prevented in the future.

***(3 Stars)

Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain. Classically trained in French Cooking, Bourdain worked his way up to the top of New York’s culinary scene. At the height of food television’s popularity, he published this voyueristic look at the food industry. From the fights to the romances to the vices of kitchen workers, Bourdain lays out exactly what happens behind the closed doors.

****(4 Stars)