Research at ORM

The UCLouvain Observatory for Research on Media and Journalism (ORM) mission is to contribute to the scientific analysis of journalism and the role of the news media in French-speaking Belgium and in contemporary societies. Our work focuses on three challenges that are profoundly transforming media ecosystems today:

This part of our research focuses on public interest information producers. Some examples of recent research carried out by our members:

  • The study of the socio-economics of the news media;
  • The sociological analysis of the professional group of journalists and its evolution (careers, status, professional practices and routines, etc.);
  • The comparative study of the role of journalists in democracy and the political evolution of journalistic cultures;
  • The study of attacks/threats against the journalistic institution and its representatives;
  • The analysis of journalistic ethics, media law and regulatory institutions of journalistic activity.

We focus mainly on the study of the production and circulation of information content in public spaces. Some examples of recent research carried out by our members:

  • The analysis of the production, circulation and reception of information and media narratives;
  • The analysis of controversies and the career of social problems in public spaces and digital public spaces;
  • The analysis of the mechanisms of automation of the collection, production and dissemination of information (thanks in particular to Artificial Intelligence) and the study of the evolution of journalistic roles and practices that this entails;
  • The diffusion and impact of misinformation and disinformation and the analysis of informational and infodemic vulnerability.
  • The automated analysis (text mining, image, sentimental analysis, stereotypes identification) of large corpora of french-speaking media content.

An important part of our research is focused on media audiences. Some recent examples of research conducted by our members:

  • The analysis of trust indicators in the news media and the media professionals;
  • The analysis of new relationship modalities between media and audiences (audience turn): news engagement, individualisation and personalisation of data flows, participation/transparency dynamics, use of blockchain technology as a tool for audience engagement;
  • R&D projects aiming at developing new information formats based on the evolution of audiences and their relationship to information: gamification, multimodality, immersive AR-VR-XR technologies;
  • Analysis of information automation (AI) mechanisms.

ORM’s work and interventions correspond to three logics.

ORM members carry out analyses of media/journalistic phenomena for a wider public as well as various missions of service to society and continuing education.

They conduct research on the evolution of a sector undergoing profound technological, economical and editorial transformations.

In this changing context, ORM is developing a particular expertise at the crossroads of different disciplines: journalism studies, media and digital sociology, sociology of social problems and engineering (automatic processing of language and visual content).

Academic Partners

ORM researchers are members of the Institut Langage et Communication de l’UCLouvain, and, within this institute, of the Pôle de recherches en communication (PCOM/RECOM). ORM also works closely with the Media Innovation & Intelligibility Lab (MiiL), the innovation platform for digital production and appropriation at UCLouvain.

ORM is a member of the International Alliance for Research on Journalism Practice and Education (ARPPEJ), an international network of partners involved in both research and education in journalism. ORM and EjL (UCLouvain School of journalism) regularly collaborate with the Centre de Recherche sur les Médiations (Crem- Université de Lorraine) and the Académie du journalisme et des médias (Université de Neuchâtel).

Ongoing Research Projects

Name of the projectDescription
Pandorix: Investigating the Future of Health and Risk Communication in Brussels

Funded by Innoviris – Prospective for Brussels call
PANDORIX is a prospective research project financed by Innoviris for 3 years. It aims to draw conclusions from the current health crisis in order to better prepare Brussels and its population for the future. ORM’s mission in this project is to analyse the way in which information circulates during a crisis in a multicultural city. Pandorix is being conducted by 3 teams from UCLouvain. It combines expertise in public health with health psychology (IPSY/RGPPHA), disaster epidemiology (IRSS/CRED) and sociology of media and communication (ILC/ORM).
Main researcher for ORM: Pierre-Olivier Robert, Supervisor: Grégoire Lits
Russia Expertise in the Media Cold War

Funded by FSR and FNRS
This project is conducted by Dr. Zoltan Dujisin with a FSR Incoming postdoctoral Grant and a CR FNRS Grant. It examines the public construction of disinformation and its consequences for the changing profession of journalism. Using the rich case-study provided by European media coverage of Russia’s activities in the information sphere. Zoltan will examine the production of journalistic identities through their embedding in networks of Russian disinformation expertise.
Main researcher: Dr. Zoltan Dujisin, supervisor: Grégoire Lits
Automemo – Automated Media Monitoring
The AUTOMEMO project aims to collect and automatically archive, on UCLouvain’s servers, the content and metadata of written press articles published in digital version by the French-speaking Belgian news media, for scientific research purposes. Among the research paths fed by this project, we can cite:
– analysis of the evolution of the storytelling of different public problems over time,
– comparative analysis of the treatment of the same issue by different media,
– analysis of the evolution of different categories of information (politics, society, culture, sport, health, etc.),
– analysis of the storytelling of diversity issues (dealing with violence against women, place of diversity, etc.)
Supervisors: Antonin Descampe and Grégoire Lits
World of Journalism Study

The ORM is the French speaking Belgian PI of the projet. The study’s main objective is to help journalism researchers, media practitioners and policy makers better understand the worldviews and changes that are taking place in the professional views of journalists, the conditions and limitations under which journalists operate, and the social functions of journalism in a changing world.
Supervisor: Olivier Standaert
Smart and Social Home Care

Funded by Innoviris – Team up call
Funded for a period of two years by Innoviris. S&SHC is an R&D project that aims to develop technological tools (combining the development of the Internet of things, secure data sharing technologies and social networks) that allow an elderly person, while remaining at home as long as possible, to remain in contact with his or her care network (family, health personnel, close caregivers). ORM’s contribution concerns the integration of SHS in R&D processes as well as in the field of critical data studies.
Supervisor: Grégoire Lits, Researcher: Dr. Amélie Anciaux
Monitoring the Covid-19 Infodemic in Belgium
Since the beginning of the epidemic, ORM has been monitoring the information practices of French-speaking Belgians by means of sample surveys and qualitative interviews conducted on several occasions with diversified samples.
Supervisor: Grégoire Lits, with the collaboration of Amélie Cougnon (MiiL)
B-Magic. La lanterne magique et son impact culturel comme outil de communication de masse en Belgique (1830-1940)

Funded by the EOS programme
This project, financed by the EOS programme and bringing together researchers from the University of Antwerp, the ULB, and the ORM (UCLouvain), aims to make available the history of the magic lantern as a medium of mass communication in Belgium. The aim is to highlight the different functions of lantern shows within the Belgian public sphere.
Supervisor: Philippe Marion, Researcher: Dr. Céline Ruivo
DIRE Project

Funded by the PDR programme
The DIRE (Droit, Information, Recherches croisées) project focuses on the violence in Eastern Congo (Bukavu) and brings together law and journalism scholars from three universities: UCLouvain, ULB and University of Bukavu.
Supervisor: Benoît Grevisse

Ongoing PhDs

TitleName of the candidate
OpiNews: Automatic Analysis of Opinion in French-Language Press Articles as a Tool to Combat the Polarisation of Online InformationLouis Escouflaire – FNRS-FRESH Grant 2021-2025
Understanding the Risk and Uncertainty Surrounding Journalist’s Working ConditionsClémence Petit – FSR Grant 2021-2025
Towards more Sustainable Mobility Practices in Wallonia? A Mixed-Method Research on the Boosts and Brakes for the Development of Such Practices, and on the COVID-19 Pandemic ConsequencesLine Vanparys – BEST pre-PhD launching Grant.
Connections between Journalistic Self-Regulation, Ethical Values and Professional Identities of Journalists: Parallel Developments in an International Perspective.Lavinia Rotili – Research and Teaching Assistant at the School of Communication / Freelance journalist
Analysing the Editorial and Economic Strategies for the Production of Audiovisual Journalistic Content for Social Networks.Margaux Guyot – Research and Teaching Assistant at the School of Communication / Freelance journalist

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