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In Frontiers in big data

With more and more voices and opinions entering the public domain, a key challenge facing journalists and editors is maximizing the context of the information that is presented on news websites. In this paper, we argue that systems for exposing readers to the many aspects of societal debates should be grounded in methods and tools that can provide a fine-grained understanding of these debates. The present article thereby explores the conceptual transition from opinion observation to opinion facilitation by introducing and discussing the Penelope opinion facilitator: a proof-of-concept reading instrument for online news media that operationalizes emerging methods for the computational analysis of cultural conflict developed in the context of the H2020 ODYCCEUS project. It will be demonstrated how these methods can be combined into an instrument that complements the reading experience of the news website The Guardian by automatically interlinking news articles on the level of semantic frames. In linguistic theory, semantic frames are defined as coherent structures of related concepts. We thereby zoom in on instances of the "causation" frame, such as "climate change causes global warming," and illustrate how a reading instrument that links articles based on such frames might reconfigure our readings of climate news coverage, with specific attention to the case of global warming controversies. Finally, we relate our findings to the context of the development of computational social science, and discuss pathways for the evaluation of the instrument, as well as for the future upscaling of qualitative analyses and close readings.

Willaert Tom, Van Eecke Paul, Van Soest Jeroen, Beuls Katrien

2021

climate change, debate, news websites, opinion facilitation, semantic frames