My Friends, Editors, Algorithms, and I: Examining Audience Attitudes to News Selection

Digital Journalism, doi: 10.1080/21670811.2018.1493936

23 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2018

See all articles by Neil Thurman

Neil Thurman

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich; City, University of London

Judith Moeller

University of Amsterdam

Natali Helberger

University of Amsterdam - Institute for Information Law (IViR)

Damian Trilling

University of Amsterdam

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

Prompted by the ongoing development of content personalization by social networks and mainstream news brands, and recent debates about balancing algorithmic and editorial selection, this study explores what audiences think about news selection mechanisms and why. Analysing data from a 26-country survey (N=53,314), we report the extent to which audiences believe story selection by editors and story selection by algorithms are good ways to get news online and, using multi-level models, explore the relationships that exist between individuals’ characteristics and those beliefs. The results show that, collectively, audiences believe algorithmic selection guided by a user’s past consumption behaviour is a better way to get news than editorial curation. There are, however, significant variations in these beliefs at the individual level. Age, trust in news, concerns about privacy, mobile news access, paying for news, and six other variables had effects. Our results are partly in line with current general theory on algorithmic appreciation, but diverge in our findings on the relative appreciation of algorithms and experts, and in how the appreciation of algorithms can differ according to the data that drive them. We believe this divergence is partly due to our study’s focus on news, showing algorithmic appreciation has context-specific characteristics.

Keywords: algorithms, collaborative filtering, gatekeeping, journalistic curation, news selection, personalization, recommender systems, user tracking

Suggested Citation

Thurman, Neil J. and Moeller, Judith and Helberger, Natali and Trilling, Damian, My Friends, Editors, Algorithms, and I: Examining Audience Attitudes to News Selection (2018). Digital Journalism, doi: 10.1080/21670811.2018.1493936. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3265984

Neil J. Thurman (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich ( email )

Oettingenstr. 67
Munich, 80538
Germany

City, University of London ( email )

Northampton Square
London, EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom

Judith Moeller

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Natali Helberger

University of Amsterdam - Institute for Information Law (IViR) ( email )

Rokin 84
Amsterdam, 1012 KX
Netherlands

Damian Trilling

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.damiantrilling.net

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