Project news & updates

SYNC3: Harnessing Public Opinion Around News Events from the Blogosphere

28 February 2011 | PROJECT NEWS


Over the past few years, blogs have become one of the major platforms for people to express personal opinions and sentiment. Previously, opinions on issues of public interest were commonly identified through the use of opinion polls. Now, in the Internet age, the wisdom of the crowds can be harnessed by means of automated sentiment analysis technologies that map emotionally charged opinions in user-generated content. 

One may wonder, how media analysts can follow conversations and track sentiment centred on key issues, events, or persons as they unfold in the blogosphere. How is it that a journalist can get an overview of public debates regarding news stories while at the same time identifying expert interlocutors and opinion-makers? The answer is simple: SYNC3 makes this possible. 

How users see SYNC3: An efficient tool for media analytics

The SYNC3 prototype received a lot of positive feedback from users coming from major news agencies and national and international communication and media monitoring agencies in Europe, including Russia, during the first round of user evaluations which took place in November of 2010 through January of 2011. The media analysts, journalists, editors, and bloggers who tested the first prototype praised SYNC3 for its capacity to synthesise public opinion by clustering together disparate individual opinions around news events presented in traditional media.

The first integrated version of the SYNC3 prototype comprised of a search interface that enabled easy exploration of news articles and blog posts which were organised around news events. Narrowing the search down to certain persons, organisations, locations, and/or news sources that were involved could filter out the search results even further. 

During discussions with users, new uses for the Workspace, a collaborative space that provides users with tools to analyse media content and create news maps, reports and new articles, were revealed. The simplicity through which media content could be archived in the Workspace for later use was much appreciated by media monitoring specialists. Communication professionals also envisioned using the SYNC3 tool for possible demonstrations that would introduce compelling case studies of media coverage and cross-media influence to a major audience such as an important client. 

Next steps

The last year of research and development of this three year EU funded project will be dedicated to gathering and integrating user feedback to increase the usability, applicability, and usefulness of the system. Sentiment analysis, which is one of most user-awaited functionalities of the system, will be among the key issues on the agenda of research and development. Exploring potential business opportunities is also on the agenda of the consortium in the coming months so, if you’re interested in talking to us about interesting ideas, collaborations, or things that we can add please write us! 

Note to editors: SYNC3 is under development by a consortium comprising of reputable research institutes, universities and companies in the field of technology. Some of the associations currently affiliated with the project are: Athens Technology Centre (ATC), National Centre of Scientific Research ‘Demokritos’, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz Universität Hannover (L3S), The University of Edinburgh, Xerox Research Centre Europe, i-Sieve, and Google as well as two media organizations, the European Journalism Centre and RIA Novosti. 

To stay up-to-date with the latest project developments please check the project website, and also our updates on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


SYNC3: News-Centric Semantic Blog Analysis
The EJC led the research and development of SYNC3, an innovative blog search and curation platform. The blog search engine, which also functioned as a content analysis tool, aspired to facilitate journalistic research, but also catered to media curators, bloggers, and public relation professionals.