We’re often asked what “analytic design” is. Simply put, it’s the combined application of analytic skills, tailored methodologies, and thoughtful design – both in terms of a project’s structure and its outputs. We’re pretty agnostic about the subject matter of our projects, as long as our team — including our network of consultants — has the necessary expertise to address the issue at hand. This allows us to tackle a wide range of challenges that have one aspect in common: they require us to assess, distill, and interpret information, and produce insights to help clients make informed decisions and improve outcomes. That said, it’s always fun when we’re given the chance to go back to our roots – Middle East affairs and the Arabic language – and apply our skills and knowledge in new and creative ways. Case in point: our recently completed 10-month effort supporting the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is an independent U.S. federal agency whose mission is to "inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” BBG oversees multiple media outlets that combine to attract more than 226 million audience members each week. Even if you haven’t heard of BBG, you know their networks — including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Our effort supported the BBG’s Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). On behalf of MBN, we assessed the online Arabic-language content of nearly 600 news programs across 30 television channels to characterize their approach to topics relevant to BBG’s mission. By analyzing the subject matter, discourse, format, setting, objectivity, and production quality of individual episodes, we identified trends and gaps that informed MBN’s continued efforts to “expand the spectrum of ideas, opinions, and perspectives available in the region’s media.”
This project enabled us to use our foreign language expertise not for translation purposes, but to assess discussion of political, social, religious, and security issues. We created a custom framework for comparing media content and production across a large set of channels, programs, and episodes. And we provided MBN with concise findings and recommendations that can advance its mission. All in all, we enjoyed the opportunity to support a client that truly makes a difference on the global stage.