The Backbone Structure of Audience Networks: A New Approach to Comparing Online News Consumption Across Countries

Political Communication, Forthcoming

24 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2018 Last revised: 19 Oct 2018

See all articles by Silvia Majo-Vazquez

Silvia Majo-Vazquez

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Sandra González-Bailón

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication

Date Written: June 12, 2018

Abstract

Measures of audience overlap between news sources give us information on the diversity of people’s media diets and the similarity of news outlets in terms of the audiences they share. This provides a way of addressing key questions like whether audiences are increasingly fragmented. In this paper, we use audience overlap estimates to build networks that we then analyze to extract the backbone – that is, the overlapping ties that are statistically significant. We argue that the analysis of this backbone structure offers metrics that can be used to compare news consumption patterns across countries, between groups, and over time. Our analytical approach offers a new way of understanding audience structures that can enable more comparative research and, thus, more empirically grounded theoretical understandings of audience behavior in an increasingly digital media environment.

Keywords: online news, audience networks, fragmentation, comparative research, legacy media, digital-born media

Suggested Citation

Majo-Vazquez, Silvia and Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis and González-Bailón, Sandra, The Backbone Structure of Audience Networks: A New Approach to Comparing Online News Consumption Across Countries (June 12, 2018). Political Communication, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3194766

Silvia Majo-Vazquez

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

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

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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