Public history Digital history & historiography

Reading yesterday's news in the digital age

19 May 2020

Reading yesterday's news in the digital age

Source: / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Text mining 200 years of historical newspapers.

What shall we do with yesterday’s news? Historical newspapers are mirrors of past societies. Published over centuries on a regular basis, they record wars and minor events, report on international, national and local matters, and document day-to-day life. They reflect the political, social and economic contexts in which they were produced and help us understand how people in the past experienced their time.

In recent years, newspapers were mass-digitised and are now readily available for consultation online. Keyword search remains the most popular way to find interesting articles - but is there a better way?

The Swiss-Luxembourgish project impresso. Media Monitoring of the Past thinks there is and uses text mining tools to extract, process, link and visualise information from Luxembourgish and Swiss newspapers. This allows us for example to track the mentions of specific persons and places over time, to explore thematics such as sports or culture and to detect reused text passages across newspapers. To access and explore all this newly generated data we developed a new user interface and a range of didactic materials which help to foster a better understanding of the advantages and challenges of digitisation.

To better explain how all this works, this Forum Z combines presentations with hands-on testing of the interface and accompanying didactic materials, a quiz on historical fake news with reflections on sensationalist language in journalistic writing.

Here is what to expect:

  • An overview of the impresso user interface
  • An introduction to the Ranke.2 project
  • Hands-on session and opportunity to speak to exchange with the team
  • Fake news quiz: Can you spot which historical article was written by machine?
  • Lecture on sensationalism in journalistic writing


Tuesday, 19 May 2020

18.00 - 20.00

Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg
37D, Avenue John F. Kennedy 
L-1855 Luxembourg

Languages sporken: English and French


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