Distant Reading Televised Information: Exploring the Communication of Swedish Government Agencies, 1978–2020

Aktivitet: Föredrag eller presentationPresentation


Starting in the early 1970s, the program Anslagstavlan aired government information twice a week on Swedish public service television (SVT). There were only two channels at the time, hence this pinboard of government information on taxes, health care and public insurance reached millions of Swedes. Though often part of larger information campaigns, the televised government information stood out, making the program well-known amongst generations of Swedish audiences.

Anslagstavlan is a neglected but important part of Sweden’s modern audiovisual heritage. While much research has been devoted to the Swedish public service model, wherein regulated independence from the government has been a cornerstone, little is known about Swedish television’s function as a communication tool for government authorities. Whereas digital research methodologies for data-driven text analysis have been developed and established over the last decades, the use of digital tools in the analysis of audiovisual sources has only recently gained increased attention. To analyze the aesthetic, narrative and rhetorical development of Anslagstavlan, the research project Televising Information (Swedish Research Council, 2020–2023) relies on digital video analytics tools as well as speech-to-text-algorithms—foremost in co-operation with developers at the KB-lab research environment at the National Library of Sweden where all TV-programs are preserved.

For this paper, KB-lab’s automatic speech recognition method ('Fine-tuning XLSR-Wav2Vec2’) was used to transform a sample of spoken messages in Anslagstavlan between 1978–2000 to text. Following this, the corpus analysis tool AntConc was utilized to explore keywords and collocational patterns in the material. By comparing and contrasting key themes and discourses in different time periods, this paper highlights how Swedish government agencies’ communication has developed over time. Notably, even though the National Library of Sweden’s audiovisual collection is frequently used in media historical scholarship, no previous research project has utilized digital methods to analyze material from their collection. Therefore, this paper additionally offers a reflection on the theoretical and methodological challenges facing the project at large, and in particular the novel approach to television content analysis using speech-to-text algorithms.
Period2022 mars 152022 mars 18
EvenemangstitelDigital Humanities in the Nordic and Baltic Countries 2022 6th Conference
Typ av evenemangKonferens
PlatsUppsala, SverigeVisa på karta