Tracking Media Narratives

Media coverage and dialog tends to conform with, amplify, or counter ongoing narratives. These narratives reflect how writers and consumers of media content see the world — and how people can see it so differently. Exovera is demonstrating that identifying, capturing, and quantifying these narratives in the media is the key to helping our clients make objective sense of the increasingly bewildering new media space.

Background

Exovera LLC, a subsidiary of SOS International, has served the U.S. Government and commercial clients with unique global strategic media analysis and reporting products for a decade. Working in more than 30 languages, Exovera has monitored new and traditional media in over 60 countries. Through the combination of proprietary technology and expert analyst insight, it processes massive volumes of data in order to bring critical developments and local and regional perspectives to light. In the race to stay current with day-to-day developments, the national security and diplomatic communities served by Exovera, like many other organizations, face a particular challenge. They must stay on top of thousands of outlets, and millions of articles and different types of postings on many issues in near real time, all without losing sight of the broader meaning and patterns. Tracking and understanding the bigger ongoing “story” or “narrative” is often the key to Exovera clients’ success in operating with greater effectiveness and assurance.

On nearly every topic, in every region, media coverage and social media discourse conforms to various identifiable narratives. Narratives can be thought of as the way we interpret information around us — derived from our experiences and learned biases; it is how people make sense of the world.[1] Tracking and measuring narratives is a powerful and precise way to understand how various groups of people think, and why they behave as they do. Exovera has developed the technology to automatically detect and quantify narratives as they play out in the world’s media.

Narratives Tracker

Exovera’s Narratives Tracker classifies, quantifies, and explores active media ‘narratives.’ It “reads” tens of thousands of articles each day as they are published in thousands of outlets and classifies each article by the degree to which it adheres to each measured narrative. The technology uses proprietary iterated neural network deep learning and machine NLP (natural language processing) processes to rate the articles. The Tracker can be applied to track and quantitatively measure the proliferation of most any narrative about any issue, organization, place, or person. For example, it can measure the advance of a narrow negative narrative about a specific politician, or the relative strength in different markets of larger, more abstract “meta” narratives.

In the following use case, the data captures the relative prevalence over time of competing narratives surrounding “National Populism” and “International Liberalism” in the U.S. media, including a representative sample of far left, mainstream, and far right media outlets.

The Tracker provides a daily snapshot of how each broad point of view relates to the news of the day, as well as longer-term trends. On 8th of May, for example, despite the victory of the “globalist” Emmanuel Macron in France, negative coverage from supporters of the Trump Administration about Sally Yates ahead of her testimony at the US Senate hearing on the apparent Russian intervention in the U.S. election drove an overall increase in “nationalist” articles

As this Tracker example shows, narratives reveal the true media picture. It shows objectively the key developments and articles driving the trends, as well as the people, places, and organizations in articles most associated with each category.

Contentious issues usually can be reduced to a set of core, frequently incompatible narrative elements that help explain exactly how people with the same information can see the world so differently. The immigration debate in the United States, for example — so consequential both there and in Europe — could be reduced to the following key narrative elements.

The Ethnic Nationalist sub-narrative on the Narratives Tracker, closely related to the immigration narrative, reveals that the temporary budget passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump caused a marked increase in nationalist articles, and the Tracker provides access to exactly what those articles were and where they were published.

Applications

Classifying and tracking narratives quantifiably may be applied to far more than understanding broad political trends. The methodology can be applied by any organization involved in public relations and strategic communications, campaign management and assessment, but also by many others in innovative ways, such as by the international security community as indicators related to security and stability. In fact the Narratives Tracker applies to almost any concept, person, place or thing people are writing and talking about. The quantification of narratives opens up a whole new world of indicators that can be used to feed algorithmic models and even to predict future behavior.

Narratives represented in individual articles build an aggregate story that can shape an audience’s understanding about what is true and what is false. Exovera’s clients gain a clear interpretation of specific issues or events, relying on our technology for insight into some of the world’s most volatile environments.

For More Information
Contact Exovera to schedule a demo of Narratives Tracker and the full range of EV3 platform capabilities.
 
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[1] Exovera defines a narrative as an “argument” or interpretation (explicit or implicit) coming from various points of view that is supported by a certain set of propositions, statements, and facts.