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The Diversity Meter

The Diversity Meter is a design research project that develops a digital data-analysis tool that will measure diversity of news content in media organizations’ digital news archives. With the tool, news organizations can assess their own performance especially in terms of source diversity. For example, is it always the same experts and organizations that are used as news sources in certain topics? Are they women or men? What is their position in society? At the same time, the project wishes to contribute to the broader questions of who gets their voice heard in public discussion, and what is the role of journalistic media in fostering diversity.

The research questions of the Diversity Meter Project are: Can content diversity in journalism be measured with the help of computational tools, namely natural language processing (NLP)? And how can such measuring help journalists in producing more multifaceted journalism?

The project aims at finalizing the digital tool – “Diversity Meter” – that utilizes natural language processing (NLP) techniques. In this aspect, the project draws from computing sciences. The project also wishes to engage professional journalists in reflections over the topic of media diversity and sourcing practices. Hence, the project also draws form communication sciences, namely journalism studies, and the researchers work together with two collaborating news organizations: Finnish News Agency STT and newspaper Kaleva.

The method of the project is design research which implicates that the data-analysis tool is designed together with the people who will use the meter in the end. For this, a series of workshops will be organized where the meter is tested, assessed, and reflected on. These reflections also provide rich qualitative research material.

The Diversity Meter was at first initiated and developed into a demo version by a small association for professional journalists, Sopiva ry. The demo version was selected among finalists in a news innovation contest by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation in 2019. Now the meter is designed and researched in the academic context at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences at Tampere University. The project combines the research of Tampere Natural Language Processing (NLP) Group and the journalism research of Research Centre Comet.

More information can be found from the project’s own website.