The Divergent online
News Preferences of
Journalists and readers
Reading between the lines of the thematic gap between
the supply and demand of online news.
The PoLITICaL BoDy, like the biological one, needs the right combination of nutri- ents to function adequately. One such key ingredient is
news about public affairs that is necessary to inform political deliberation
and encourage educated participation among the citizenry. In most liberal democratic societies, this news is
largely provided by elite news organizations in print, broadcast, and online
media. But, at least on the Web, while
these organizations have supplied this
kind of news in considerable quantities, the demand for news among online readers has gravitated toward other kinds of content also provided on
these sites, such as information about
weather, sports, crime, gossip, and entertainment. That frames an interesting dilemma for online news, and also
for society as a whole.
in online news
I did not look for the dilemma in online news. Once I found it in one place,
however, I went looking for it elsewhere and found it everywhere.
For a book on imitation in online
and offline news, 1 I measured the
amount of readers’ news choices and
the thematic composition of their
choices. I found a large, double-digit
difference between supply (
preferences of journalists) and demand (
preferences of readers).
More precisely, I calculated the de-
gree of similarity in the events covered
in the stories the three leading online
news sites in Argentina considered
the most important ones in any given
news cycle. This meant collecting each
homepage’s first 10 stories counting
from left to right and from the top
down in a grid-like manner. The analy-
sis sought to determine whether an
event covered in one site was also cov-
ered in at least one of the others.