This article discusses research on the machine coding of international event data from international and regional news sources using the Kansas Event Data System (KEDS). First, we suggest that the definition of an “event” should be modified so that events are explicitly and unambiguously defined in terms of natural language. Second, we discuss KEDS: a Macintosh-based machine coding system using pattern recognition and simple linguistic parsing to code events using the WEIS event categories. Third, we compare the Reuters international news service reports with those of two specialized regional sources: the foreign policy chronologies in the Journal of Palestine Studies and the German language biweekly publication Informationen.

We conclude by noting that machine coding, when combined with the numerous sources of machine-readable text that have become available in the past decade, has the potential to provide a much richer source of event data on international political interactions than that currently available. The ease of machine coding should encourage the creation of event coding schemes developed to address specific theoretical concerns; the increased density of these new data sets may allow the study of problems that could not be analyzed before.

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