“Networks of Audience Overlap in the Consumption of Digital News.” Journal of Communication, 2018.

Subhayan Mukerjee, Sílvia Majó-Vázquez, and Sandra González-Bailón

How do people consume news online? In this article, the authors 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. The authors 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. They explain why their approach is better than previous approaches using two data sets: one tracks digital news consumption during the 2016 Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the other during the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States. They show that their filtering technique produces a completely different ranking of top sites, uncovering structural properties in the audience network that would go unnoticed otherwise.