The News Gap
When the Information Preferences of the Media and the Public Diverge
320 pp., 6 x 9 in, 52 figures
- Published: August 21, 2015
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: November 8, 2013
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An analysis of divergent online news preferences of journalists and consumers and what this means for media and democracy in the digital age.
The websites of major media organizations—CNN, USA Today, the Guardian, and others—provide the public with much of the online news they consume. But although a large proportion of the top stories these sites disseminate cover politics, international relations, and economics, users of these sites show a preference (as evidenced by the most viewed stories) for news about sports, crime, entertainment, and weather. In this book, Pablo Boczkowski and Eugenia Mitchelstein examine the divergence in preferences and consider its implications for the media industry and democratic life in the digital age.
Drawing on analyses of more than 50,000 stories posted on twenty news sites in seven countries in North and South America and Western Europe, Boczkowski and Mitchelstein find that the gap in news preferences exists regardless of ideological orientation or national media culture, and that it is not affected by innovations in forms of storytelling, such as blogs and user-generated content on mainstream news sites. Drawing upon these findings, they explore the news gap's troubling consequences for the matrix that connects communication, technology, and politics in the digital age.
By analyzing news as a dynamic system, Boczkowski and Mitchelstein can analyze the gap between the preferences of producers and consumers of news, show why that matters for a democratic nation, and discuss how we might address the risks associated with that gap.
Clay Shirky, Associate Professor, New York University
Boczkowski and Mitchelstein use a fascinating methodology to explore a digital-content divide they argue mirrors profoundly different preferences between news creators and news users. The News Gap looks at enduring questions in important new ways. It will surely spark terrific arguments about what stories journalists should tell—and how they should tell them—in an age where audience analytics reign.
Joseph Turow, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
Boczkowski and Mitchelstein fill an important gap in our knowledge of how news markets really work. Through analyses spanning twenty news sites in seven countries, they elegantly and effectively describe the discrepancies between the stories news sites feature prominently and the stories consumers actually choose to read, comment on, and share.
James T. Hamilton, Professor of Communication, Stanford University