The Department of Homeland Security wants to compile a database to monitor hundreds of thousands of news outlets and journalists around the world.
Bloomberg Law reports that DHS is looking for a contractor to help build the database and keep track of more than 290,000 news sources, collecting data about each source’s "sentiment," influence, language, and circulation. The data would allow the agency to identify "any and all" coverage related to a particular event, DHS officials told Bloomberg Law.
The tracking would apply to online, print, broadcast, cable, and radio sources — essentially, any journalist, editor, blogger, or correspondent deemed a possible "media influencer" could be included. DHS also wants to follow social media activity and hopes to be able to instantly translate coverage in more than 100 languages to English to add to the database.
"Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers," DHS said in a statement. The service would fill "a critical need to incorporate these functions into [DHS] programs in order to better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners."
Government officials have recently put various media under the microscope. Nineteen lawmakers questioned last month whether news outlet Al Jazeera, a state-owned media company based in Qatar, should be considered a foreign agent because of its coverage that "undermines" U.S. interests. The Congressional Black Caucus, meanwhile, criticized the FBI for monitoring online activity of suspected "black identity extremists" in November.