Digital News and the Consumption of Information Online

Grant Number: 
NSF 1729412
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Date Range: 
01 Sep 2017 to 31 Aug 2020
Principal Investigators: 

This project will analyze patterns of online news consumption to determine the impact that digital technologies have on access to political information. Blogs, new media sites, news aggregators, social media platforms, and the online version of legacy media have multiplied the number of entry points to news. However, in spite of the many claims made about the effects of digital technologies on news consumption, there is still a scarcity of observational data on how audiences get their news online. In particular, there is no empirical evidence to allow a comparison of trends over time and across different political contexts. This project will fill this gap by making three contributions: (i) a methodology to measure patterns of news consumption using panel data that tracks online browsing behavior; (ii) new metrics to compare those patterns over time and across countries; and (iii) an application of the metrics to explain trends and differences in news consumption as they relate to the media and regulatory contexts in which they take place. Ultimately, the goal is to use a novel comparative approach to characterize online news consumption and use that information to evaluate the impact that digital technologies have on access to politically-relevant information.