The Transmedia Observatory

The Transmedia Observatory set out to show and help viewers understand the paths that news takes when broadcast by all forms of media. The software can access and mine infinite amounts of data, using a multimodal search engine.

The Observatory is a software platform that can analyse vast quantities of diverse, multimodal, transmedia data (television, radio, Web, AFP dispatches, Twitter feeds) linked to French and French-language news.

The Observatory was set up in 2010 as part of the OTmedia project (funded by ANR until 2014).  The consortium behind the project, headed by Ina, brought together a number of partners working in technology, social sciences and the humanities and provided the knowledge and tools for a mass treatment of the media.  

Bringing social sciences and technology together

How does news spread today? What is the Internet’s or Twitter’s role compared with that of traditional players such as television, radio and the press? Who starts a media “buzz”? Who are the players involved? What place do images occupy in the media? Which is the most frequently broadcast image of the week?

All these questions have arisen with the numerous developments in the news and information sector in recent years and the Transmedia Observatory (OTMedia) has attempted to answer them by inviting researchers in IT and social sciences to work together.

The Transmedia Observatory permanently collects, processes and indexes over 1,500 streams of information from television, radio, the Web, the press, AFP dispatches and Twitter. That’s over 4 million documents for the period from July 2011 to December 2012 for example.

Texts, visuals and sounds are brought together to enable the user to search for news on the press and the Web but also on television and radio, to analyse events, the chronology of coverage, themes, and the paths the news have taken.

The volume and diversity of its collection and performance of its modules make OTMedia a unique platform that incorporates transcription, visual, text and linguistic analysis and cutting-edge data mining software components.

This platform, now known as OTMedia+, is today in a new development phase carried out by Ina to be consolidated and become an operational system by 2018. 

It has notably been used in L’information à tout prix, a work by Julia Cagé, Nicolas Hervé and Marie-Luce Viaud (Ina Editions, 2017).

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