UiB and Wolftech to Collaborate on New Journalism Tool

Published 24.01.2018
The University of Bergen has been awarded funds from the Norwegian Research Council's IKTPLUSS program to develop tools that will contribute to more efficient and innovative journalism. (Photo: Ingrid Aarseth Johannessen, UiB)

The project, named «News Angler: Discovering Unexpected Connections in the News», is developed together with Wolftech(, which is headquartered in Bergen and is an active member of the Media City Bergen industry cluster.)

– A goal for UiB in Media City Bergen is to collaborate with cluster partners. We want to make use of each other's competence in the cluster, and at the same time work together on development to solve challenges within the media industry. With "News Angler" we are achieving this, as UiB and the tech company Wolftech will collaborate in the development of innovative and efficient tools for journalists, says Dag Rune Olsen, Rector of the University of Bergen. 

The funds have been awarded through The Norwegian Research Council's IKTPLUSS program, an initiative dedicated to ICT research and innovation. 

– News Angler is a project focused on new information and communication technology to make use of big data and social media. In this project, we want to analyze and manage data on a semantic level, says Andreas L. Opdahl, Project Manager for News Angler and Professor at the Department of Information and Media Studies. 

Helps Journalists Discover New Topics and Angles
The aim of the project is to develop tools that will help journalists to discover new information, topics and angles. Information will be gathered from text based media, like social media and commercial news aggregators, and from open sources for refence data. At the center of this, Semantic Technologies will provide a standard format to represent information and knowledge in the shape of graphs or networks, which makes it easier to analyze, rediscover and exchange information and knowledge. 

– The tools will aid journalists in discovering other stories and finding background information that has a semantic similarity to the stories they are already creating. Our hope is that the developed solutions will provide journalists with information and tips, preferably unexpected and surprising, that they can't find elsewhere, says Opdahl

Wolftech in Dialogue with Large, International Broadcasters
The project was initiated in 2015 by UiB Professors OpdahlBjørnar Tessem, and Csaba Veres from the SSIS Group for Semantic and Social Information Systems, as well as Media Scientist Lars Nyre. Key personnel from Wolftech are also involved in the project. 

– We started News Hunter, which is News Angler's predecessor, because we identified a need to make the journalists' work tools more efficient. The solutions on the market at the time were most concerned with "show", and did not address key issues that a journalist should relate to, such as publishing content to different platforms. The tool was originally meant for TV 2, but we have now developed it further and are in contact with several large customers within news broadcasting, says Arne Berven, CEO at Wolftech. 

Collaboration with UiB because of their expertise
The collaboration between UiB and Wolftech started when a former student at UiB began working at Wolftech. He had completed courses in Semantic Technology at the Department of Information and Media Studies. Wolftech contacted UiB and a collaboration was initiated. 

– We entered the collaboration with UiB because of their competence in semantic analysis and social media. This is a competence that is difficult to acquire quickly in a small, entrepreneurial company. The collaboration is important for both parties, Berven says, and expands:

– It is important for the University to have a real customer and to do research on real-world needs, while for Wolftech it is important to work with someone that has expertise on areas where we want to improve. This cooperation may also contribute to increased growth and provide more jobs in Wolftech, he says.

Opdahl agrees, but at the same time emphasizes that the research group and UiB will strengthen their own competence through this collaboration. 

– With this project, we want to contribute to a good cooperation across disciplines and to develop new international relations. We will now get the opportunity to become even better at our core area and increase our competence on big data, Opdahl says. 

UiB wants more Collaboration with the media industry
Head of the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, Leif Ove Larsen, expects several research and innovation projects within media technology in the years to come. 

– It is very pleasing that the Institute has been awarded funds from the Research Council with this project. News Angler shows that the institute has a high-level research environment in media technology that can also contribute to the development of new solutions for future journalism. 

– The institute has over several years developed research and innovation cooperation with companies in the Media Cluster in Bergen. The co-location in Media City Bergen is a good facilitator to strengthen this cooperation, says Larsen.

The objective of the project is to establish a post-doctoral and doctoral dissertation, and eight master's theses. In addition, they are planning a series of international publications and participation at several conferences and workshops. The project will run from spring 2018 to spring 2022. 

This is a translated version of this article, written by Ingrid Aarseth Johannesen and published on UiB.no (In Norwegian).