Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

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Silvano Soto-Hernández, Catalina Naumis-Peña

Last modified: 2018-03-16


Thematic metadata used in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies from television news broadcasts published on the web may facilitate retrieval and increase visibility, as required by companies leading these business-model-based endeavors.

The prevalence of reduced user traffic within these audiovisual contents, discovered through search engines, led to this study. A possible relationship was seen between thematic representation, increase in visibility and access. This paper presents a review of 14 Mexican television stations and the way they apply thematic metadata to common source code SEO tags on the web.


The objective is to make use of all the linguistic and semantic capital generated in audiovisual journalistic production for representation and thematic retrieval. This would establish the foundation for improving search engine positioning performance and user access.


“However, without any terms to associate with a multimedia document as with images or music, there is an inherent problem indexing such objects. It is possible that the document has some metadata associated with it, but this is not always the case (e.g., on the web). With the web, multimedia documents are becoming increasingly more readily available, and mechanisms to access such information are sorely required.” [1]


Access to television contents by a greater volume of users, through the web, depends, to some extent, on indexing by search engines, essential tools in enabling people to retrieve both complete programs and sections of them. [2] In this regard, the objectives of human-computer interaction call for developing systems that improve yield and user satisfaction. [3] Therefore, content representation links metadata management and use to information retrieval. Considered intellectual activities and approaches of information science, this makes linguistic reasoning central to information science. [4]

2             Methodology

Action Research was the method chosen for this research on the exploitation of representation and thematic retrieval metadata in the sphere of Mexican television newscasts on the web and their effect on phenomena such as visibility and access. Kemmis, McTaggart and Nixon [5] have thoroughly studied, analyzed and systematized knowledge from this methodological perspective starting with an extensive specialized literature review, and the planner focus was taken from them. "[…] participatory action research expresses a commitment to bring together broad social analysis, the self-reflective collective self-study of practice, and transformational action to improve things." [6]


Other aspects of the focus mentioned were considered when defining methodology, including components such as the necessary diagnostics, definition of intervention strategies and formulation of points learned, using Technical Action Research as the basis. Comfort highlights the influence of the method when pointing out that: “Action research, in contrast, emphasizes the importance of fitting the research process to the action context. Simulated emergencies designed to train personnel in public.” [7] Furthermore, Argyris used this form of social research, alternating the substantial distinction concept between basic and applied research. The assumption is that if the social research is worthy, it reports on action; in other words, it must be within an action context. [8]


Additionally, the search that was done rests on the idea of attending to the needs of dynamic users who consume diverse content on the web, among which is the news. “According to findings of a 2011 survey (Purcell, 2011), 92% of American adult Internet users use search engines to find information on the web, with 59% who do so on a typical day. This and other studies confirm our intuitions regarding the important role of web information. The web continues to provide extremely low cost means of publishing information, often coupled with high incentives for doing so, since web content can affect purchasing behaviors, opinions, and other important decisions of web users.” [9]

3   Findings

The first point in the methodological plan was diagnosis. In this case, it had to be done externally, because, as in several industrial sectors, secrecy characterizes television broadcasting companies and upper management, offices and departments related to journalism, television news production and distribution on the “first screen” and web edition and publication, or “second screen”. The analysis period was February - April 2015.

To establish a strategy allowing for more in-depth analysis of the problem of representation and thematic retrieval, research was done with data that appear on the web, as of this first step. The instruments used were: a) selection of television stations for the study, b) user interface analysis and c) source code analysis. Among the strategies defined, first of all a group of Mexican television stations that broadcast news on the web as well as television screens was formed.


The second instrument was user interface analysis, which consisted of review and analysis of web pages that publish television news broadcasts or any of their substructures (news, reports, interviews, chronicles, sketches, etc.). The purpose is to determine presence or absence of those metadata that represent the topic of the content exhibited and that search engines consider relevant for improving positioning and visibility and, therefore, retrievability. An inventory was made of the metadata to be identified in order to establish the definitive ones from the research.


The third diagnostic instrument was source code analysis, consisting of review and analysis of web pages which publish television news broadcasts or any of their substructures (news, stories, interviews, chronicles, sketches, etc.), with Firefox® as the browser through use of the inspection tool and reading of title tags, meta, h1, h2, h”n”, body and content, among others commonly used in SEO strategies.



  1. Despite the previous point, at least in the Mexican case, absence of organizational information policies regarding representation and thematic retrieval is observed. This is not a strength of Mexican television stations, as reflected by their business indicators. A serious dilemma exists, because web publication demands investments and expenditures that should still be subsidized. Television reaches millions of people, while web publication in Mexico does not, thus compromising return on investment. It is a difficult situation, because television stations cannot sidestep the web, as they would no longer be in the market.


  1. Finally, there is a demand for information professionals with competences to respond to the challenges of representation and thematic retrieval. Web editors, just as their supervisors, lack those specialized skills. Consequently, we can expect that in fewer years than you might think, there will be a great demand for specialized human resources.