A web platform to capture, process, and visualize the Swiss and global news landscape


  Aberer Karl


Consumers are confronted with a deluge of digital information each day, and it is a difficult task to select the most appropriate, credible, and authentic news sources. That leads to a trust deficit between news sources and consumers. The Media Observatory Initiative seeks to address that challenge by creating a web platform to capture, process, and visualize the Swiss and global news landscape. Several methods will help readers assess the reliability of news sources and information. The platform will also allow journalists to keep track of the reaction of audiences online and effectively identify and address controversial or polarizing issues.

Evaluating a news source is often challenging because of the subjectivity of the task. Instead of a unidimensional score of credibility, we developed models that learn to identify syntactic and thematic patterns that make a media distinct from its peers. Visualizing those patterns allows for analyzing the usage of individual terms, identifying over- or under-representation of specific topics, and measuring strong similarities across media channels. The model learns from article text directly, without any additional side information, making it possible to learn from large corpora of text. Based on these findings, we will release an open and interactive map that can be used by viewers and journalists alike to dig into the patterns that influence the media ecosystem. Our approach compares the coverage of events across news entities, which produces a similarity map where distances between channels represent the similarity of their coverage.

The Web platform is available at https://newsteller.io and will gradually integrate new analytics methods. The platform is a joint initiative with the SciLens project, supported by the Open-Science fund. The research team is working in partnership with Swiss daily newspaper Le Temps. The project is funded by the Initiative for Media Innovation (IMI).