Media text mining [beta]:
What do Europeans think about the EU? To what extent do national perspectives on controversial topics such as Brexit or immigration differ?
In order to answer these questions, we have developed a text mining software capable of analysing the headlines of more than 2000~ daily news articles from Europe’s 25 biggest newspapers in the 6 most influential EU countries: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and the UK.
In the run up to the European elections of May 2019, we will investigate questions such as:
→ What does the British and continental press think about Brexit?
→ What are the most prevalent topics in the European election campaigns?
→ How are the lead candidates (Spitzenkandidaten) portrayed in different member states?
National newspapers (both in print and online) play a crucial role in shaping public opinion. Newspapers and their websites are the second most important source of information on national and European politics for European citizens, after television (Eurobarometer 2017). We have selected the 2 to 6 biggest national newspapers per country, based on their total circulation in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and the UK.
Why these countries?
These six countries are known as ‘the big 6′, because they are the most powerful countries in the EU. They represent 70% of the EU’s population, 73% of the EU’s GDP and are ranked among the most influential countries in the EU in a survey of 877 EU decision makers (ECFR 2018).
How does our software work?
We are using the programming language R to analyse and visualise data. We are only analysing headlines and short descriptions of news articles, accessed via RSS feeds. We overcome the language barrier through the use of cloud based translation services by Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. Some headlines are translated into English in order to enable comparative analysis. Research shows that analysis based on machine translated text can lead to highly similar results as analysis based on human translated text (de Vries et al. 2018).
The following dashboard provides a first preview of our software. Please note that it is still in beta and we are making further improvements. In-depth analyses will follow in the coming weeks and months.
→ Our initial finding is the strong lack of press coverage / attention given to the European elections: with only a month and a half left before the 2019 European elections we find that on average only 0.9% of headlines in the most influential newspapers of all 6 countries are about the European elections.
Note: Our text and data mining analyses are conducted in a non-commercial way for research purposes only. We only analyse headlines and article descriptions and our software produces aggregate data analyses only.