STARTING POINTS OF THE PROJECT
Media companies, news agencies, and editors are keen to say that they engage in “diverse journalism”. Diversity seems to be taken for granted as one of the criteria and ideals of high-quality news reporting.
The key questions of the project, which is entitled The News Source Diversity Meter – measuring and developing the source diversity of journalism, are: What type of measurement data do newsrooms need in order to enhance the source diversity of journalism, and how can natural language processing (NLP) technology help to improve such measurements? How can measuring source diversity lead to better, more diverse journalism? The News Source Diversity Meter is being developed in collaboration with newsrooms in a practical environment. It is a unique measurement and analysis service that answers questions about diversity that media companies have identified themselves and guides journalists towards new questions and broader considerations of the quality of journalism.
When public discourse elsewhere in the media becomes polarised and begins to resemble an echo chamber, journalism can offer a powerful counterweight in the form of diverse but structured public debate.
According to the vision that guides the News Source Diversity Meter, investing in the source diversity of journalism can enhance trust among various audiences in the accountability of journalism and the fact that journalism remains a significant platform for mutual public discourse. As many people as possible should feel that journalistic content is fair and also reflects the way they experience the world. In essence, the objective of the News Source Diversity Meter is to support public debate that promotes democracy and equality.
THE PROJECT OUTLINE
The Media Industry Research Foundation of Finland has awarded funding for the New Source Diversity Meter project in 2021 and 2022. The project began in autumn 2021 with a research team headed by Laura Ahva, Associate Professor of Journalism.
The development of the News Source Diversity Meter requires technical and conceptual development. The work encompasses a wide variety of choices, such as which dimensions of the overall concept of diversity are most useful to measure from textual data and how these choices affect the understanding of diversity in editorial offices. The technical decisions include which existing data from media companies can be used by the meter, which data should be collected, and how the meter’s user interface should be designed so that it supports journalistic work as effectively as possible. The project’s research approach is design research. Design research is widely used in IT research, in which it has been found to support a multidisciplinary work process.
In this project, the design research focuses the development of the News Source Diversity Meter, which is taking place in collaboration with STT and Kaleva Media, and the workshops held at Kaleva Media with the aim of enhancing diverse journalism in collaboration with journalists. The workshops are an opportunity to trial the meter in practice and gain valuable feedback on how it works, which will help further develop the meter. The research material is the process as a whole, which is documented for further analysis.
RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT AND IMPLEMENTERS
The News Source Diversity Meter project draws together the internal expertise of the recently established Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences (ITC) at Tampere University in a new way. The project represents social research in which IT-based methodologies are applied and developed. The research brings together two research teams: the journalism research team at the Comet Research Centre from the communications unit and the Tampere Natural Language Processing (NLP) research team from the IT unit.
In journalism research, the project is interlinked with the conciliation and responsibility research lines at the Comet Research Centre. From the perspective of data science, the project is linked to the NLP research group’s previous projects, “Voices of Democracy” and “The ethical use of artificial intelligence to guide society”.
The News Source Diversity Meter project is part of Researcher Matleena Ylikoski’s doctoral research, The diversity of journalism – the ideal, condition, and opportunity. The doctoral research is funded by the Foundation for the Promotion of Journalistic Culture (JOKES) and the Media Industry Research Foundation of Finland.