Networks of Audience Overlap in the Consumption of Digital News

Forthcoming in Journal of Communication

35 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2017 Last revised: 17 Nov 2017

See all articles by Subhayan Mukerjee

Subhayan Mukerjee

University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication

Silvia Majo-Vazquez

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Sandra González-Bailón

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication

Date Written: May 4, 2017

Abstract

How do people consume news online? Here, we propose a novel way to answer this question using the browsing behavior of web users and the networks they form while navigating news content. In these networks, two news outlets are connected if they share a fraction of their audiences. We propose two crucial improvements to the methodology employed in previous research: a statistical test to filter out non-significant overlap between sites; and a thresholding approach to identify the core of the audience network. We explain why our approach is better than previous approaches using two data sets: one tracks digital news consumption during the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK and the other during the 2016 Presidential Election in the US. We show that our filtering technique produces a completely different ranking of top sites, uncovering structural properties in the audience network that would go unnoticed otherwise.

Keywords: news; web; fragmentation; centralization; network analysis; legacy media; digital-born media

Suggested Citation

Mukerjee, Subhayan and Majo-Vazquez, Silvia and González-Bailón, Sandra, Networks of Audience Overlap in the Consumption of Digital News (May 4, 2017). Forthcoming in Journal of Communication. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3032609 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3032609

Subhayan Mukerjee

University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Silvia Majo-Vazquez

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Sandra González-Bailón (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://dimenet.asc.upenn.edu/people/sgonzalezbailon/

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