Ten EBU Members have launched a new project to overcome language barriers and share diverse news content from across the continent, writes Luis Jimenez, EBU Digital News Lead.
On 1 July 2021, visitors to some of Europe’s most popular news websites were presented with A European Perspective, a new feed showing selected stories from across the EBU membership, translated into the local user’s own language.
This ambitious project draws on the combined strength of public service media newsrooms: great journalism, original reporting, and ethical, trustworthy journalistic processes from the EBU Members that participate in the project. All with one idea in mind: get Europe talking. To make this a reality, editors at our participating Members manage to clear the rights for about 175 reports per week, thus making them available for other project partners, and ultimately their audiences. Users will typically find between 5 and 17 stories per ‘recommendation box’, and they can access them from the partners’ homepages or inside selected news articles. At the time of writing there are around 2,000 stories available for publication in the Digital News Hub that feeds the tool, which is powered by the EBU-developed EuroVOX and PEACH.
A European Perspective is a window to Europe because the stories selected to appear are rooted in diversity. This has been and still is core to the service. From COVID-related issues to environment reports, from lifestyle to economy, the story range being shown to audiences is vast.
Jukka Niva, the Head of Yle News Lab, Yle News and Current Affairs, says audience feedback has been 100% positive. “People seem to well understand the higher purpose of A European Perspective and find it valuable. The project also has tremendous and endless possibilities as the EBU and its Members are trying to break the language barrier in European public service news. With it we can help Europeans to understand the realities of other Europeans better.”
The steering group, drawn from participating EBU Members, collaborates closely with the Eurovision News team, led by Justyna Kurczabinska, and the EBU Technology & Innovation Department. Everyone involved in the project has gone the extra mile to ensure that the service service would deliver on expectations and meet all deadlines. The editorial team meets twice per week and exchanges ideas with Sébastien Noir, who leads the T&I software engineering team, every Friday. They also attend the developers’ sprint reviews where priorities for the next cycle are discussed. And in between these, together they relay information and ask for advice from the core working group that convenes every three weeks.
For Pawel Glimos, a developer on the EBU Digital News Hub, it has been a challenging and rewarding experience: “After we started exploring the requirements in detail, and the requests from the Members and editorial staff started piling up, I realized just how much there was to be done. There were a few challenging parts, like implementing a versioning system for the articles or ensuring that the system could withstand the load after the launch. Overall, the toughest part was implementing and connecting every element of the media translation/editing pipeline. We had to create many different behaviours spanning the whole project to provide editors with full functionality. Next, we aim to expand the media workflow further – support for audio editing, more straightforward three-step translations, add more statistics so that editors can quickly check what is currently a hot topic for their audiences, and polish the overall experience.”
Now immersed in finding the best workflow to editorially process video and audio files, we trust that the possibilities the Digital News Hub offers are endless.
A European Perspective has been made possible through a grant from the European Commission’s Multimedia Actions programme. It is co-funded by the EBU.