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26 November 2012
A smart computing technique has helped researchers at Cardiff and Bristol universities analyse news content in 2.5 million articles and could provide a new platform for social science research in the future.
Led by Professor Nello Cristianini of Bristol University’s Intelligent Systems Laboratory and Professor Justin Lewis, Head of Cardiff’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, the study used artificial intelligence to examine 498 different English language newspapers over a ten month period.
Usually, news content analysis is labour-intensive, limited in the sample sizes that can be processed, and the kind of questions that can be addressed. The approach used in this study involved the automation of some tasks, enabling the research team to analyse data sets significantly larger than those normally used.
The researchers found that:
Nello Cristianini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bristol, speaking about the research, said: "The automation of many tasks in news content analysis will not replace the human judgement needed for fine-grained, qualitative forms of analysis, but it allows researchers to focus their attention on a scale far beyond the sample sizes of traditional forms of content analysis."
Professor Justin Lewis, Head of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff, added: "Even some of the more predictable findings give us pause for thought. The extent to which news is male dominated shows how far we are from gender equity across most areas of public life. The fact that articles about politics are the least readable might also explain widespread public disengagement."
The study is published online in Digital Journalism.
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