NewsEye Project Wins European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2024 in the Research Category

Press release — May 30th, 2024


The NewsEye project has been honored with the prestigious European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2024 in the Research category. This accolade highlights the project's significant contributions to improving access to European historical newspapers through advanced AI technologies.

NewsEye: Revolutionizing access to historical newspapers

The NewsEye project aims to enhance access to historical European newspapers (1850-1950) for researchers, libraries, and the general public. By leveraging 15 million digitized pages from the national libraries of Austria, Finland, and France, NewsEye has developed state-of-the-art AI tools for automatic text recognition, newspaper structure analysis, and multilingual content processing. These tools enable large-scale analysis of digitized newspapers in multiple languages, thereby facilitating historical research and access to information.

A European collaboration effort in heritage preservation

Coordinated by Antoine Doucet from the L3i laboratory at La Rochelle Université, NewsEye is a collaborative effort involving several prominent European institutions. The consortium includes three national libraries: the Austrian National Library, the National Library of Finland, and the National Library of France. It also comprises four research groups in the humanities and social sciences, and four in computer science from La Rochelle Université (France), the University of Helsinki (Finland), the University of Innsbruck (Austria), and the University of Rostock (Germany). Other key partners include Paul-Valéry University Montpellier (France) and the University of Vienna (Austria). This synergy between libraries and academic institutions has been instrumental in developing AI tools for historical newspaper analysis, thus contributing to the preservation and valorization of European cultural heritage. The project is primarily funded by the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program of the European Union.

Recognition and impact

Selected from 206 eligible applications by a jury of 12 heritage experts from across Europe, NewsEye is recognized for its significant contributions to open science and digital humanities, particularly through its innovative use of AI in analyzing historical documents.

The project has renewed the state of the art in document analysis and natural language processing and achieved numerous international benchmarksmaking it possible to achieve a high level of understanding of textual content, despite imperfect digitization and character recognition, whatever the language in which the documents are written. This paves the way for numerous advances in the automatic analysis of historical documents, an area in which the major AI large language models (such as ChatGPT) are not competitive. The project has also led to the creation of the NewsEye platform, a digital library adapted to historical newspaper collections, incorporating a dynamic text analysis toolbox and a personal research assistant.

As a research project, NewsEye has exceeded all its objectives in terms of scientific output, with 64 publications in conference proceedings and 13 in journals or book chapters by the end of the project, and many more subsequently.

NewsEye is an excellent contribution to open science at the European level and beyond. It is a best practice for the digital humanities and should be considered a baseline for future research in this area. Its use of AI technology specifically responds to the needs of a very specific element of heritage, the Early European press. It is a strong example of how these innovative tools, which are not yet well implemented in the heritage sector, can be utilised for analysis and as a means through which new groups, including young people, can engage with the material. Its integration into an existing European platform and its extensive efforts in knowledge transfer and dissemination has ensured that NewsEye has been accepted by a community of users at a very large scale”, the Jury said.

Ceremony in Bucharest to celebrate the winners

The laureates will be celebrated at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony 2024, on October 7, at the Romanian Athenaeum, Bucharest's most prestigious concert hall, which recently received the European Heritage Label. This esteemed event will be co-chaired by European Commissioner Iliana Ivanova and Europa Nostra's Executive President, Hermann Parzinger. During the ceremony, the Grand Prix laureates and the Public Choice Award winner, selected from this year's laureates, will be announced, each receiving a €10,000 prize.

The ceremony will be a highlight of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2024, taking place from October 6 to 8 in Bucharest under the patronage of the Romanian President, H.E. Klaus Iohannis. The summit, co-financed by the European Union, is organized by Europa Nostra in close collaboration with heritage organizations and stakeholders in Romania.

Call to vote for the Public Choice Award

NewsEye is in the running for the Public Choice Award 2024. We need a support to win this prestigious prize. You can explore the laureates and vote online to help NewsEye secure the award, which includes a €10,000 prize. Voting is open until September 22.

Voting Rules for the Public Choice Award

To vote for the Public Choice Award 2024, please follow these rules:

  • Vote for three candidates: You must vote for exactly three candidates. Votes for fewer will be ignored. The 1st gets 3 points, the 2nd gets 2 points, and the 3rd gets 1 point.

  • Email Validation: Your vote counts only after you click the validation link sent to your email. Do not forget to check your spams !

  • Country Diversity: You cannot vote for two candidates from the same country unless the project involves multiple countries. NewsEye, involving Austria, Finland, France, and Germany, is such a project.

Support NewsEye with your vote. Voting is open until September 22.

For more information, please contact:

Antoine Doucet, La Rochelle Université