The News Gap: When the Information Preferences of the Media and the Public Diverge

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MIT Press, Nov 8, 2013 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 302 pages
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The sites of major media organizations -- CNN, USA Today, theGuardian, and others -- provide the public with much of the online news theyconsume. 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 themost viewed stories) for news about sports, crime, entertainment, and weather. In this book, PabloBoczkowski and Eugenia Mitchelstein examine this gap and consider the implications for the mediaindustry and democratic life in the digital age.

Drawing on analyses of more than50,000 stories posted on twenty news sites in seven countries in North and South America and WesternEurope, Boczkowski and Mitchelstein find that the gap in news preferences exists regardless ofideological orientation or national media culture. They show that it narrows in times of heightenedpolitical activity (including presidential elections or government crises) as readers feel compelledto inform themselves about public affairs but remains wide during times of normal politicalactivity. Boczkowski and Mitchelstein also find that the gap is not affected by innovations inWeb-native forms of storytelling such as blogs and user-generated content on mainstream news sites.Keeping the account of the news gap up to date, in the book's coda they extend the analysis throughthe 2012 U.S. presidential election. Drawing upon these findings, the authors explore the news gap'stroubling consequences for the matrix that connects communication, technology, and politics in thedigital age.


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1 When Supply and Demand Dont Meet
2 The Divergence in the Content Choices of Journalists and Consumers
3 The Difference Politics Makes
4 How Storytelling Matters
5 Clicking on Whats Interesting Emailing Whats Bizarre or Useful and Commenting on Whats Controversial
6 The Meaning of the News Gap for Media and Democracy

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About the author (2013)

Pablo J. Boczkowski is Professor and Director of the Program in Media, Technology, and Society at Northwestern University. He is the author of Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers (MIT Press) and News at Work: Imitation in an Age of Information Abundance. Eugenia Mitchelstein is a PhD candidate in the Program in Media, Technology, and Society at Northwestern University.

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