Operationalizing “public debates” across digitized heterogeneous mass media datasets in the development and use of the Media Suite
In this paper, we propose a methodological operationalization of “public debates” as we focus on the research process of CLARIAH research pilot Debate Research Across Media (DReAM). In this pilot, heterogeneous datasets (of digitized print and audiovisual media) were made search-able with tools of the CLARIAH Media Suite, using the leveled research approach that we coined previously (combining distant and close reading) to do historical public debate analysis. The qualitative research interest in public debates on drugs and regulation is historical, but in order to bridge the gap between distant and close reading of the combined digital datasets, a number of insights from media studies is taken into consideration. The natures of the different media, the type of analysis and focus on the source material itself, and the necessity to combine historical expertise with a sensibility towards discursive relations are all considered before we argue that the accommodation of this approach in the Media Suite helps the researcher to gain an improved understanding of historical public debates in mass media.