News Gap : When the Information Preferences of the Media and the Public Diverge
The sites 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 this gap and consider the 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. They show that it narrows in times of heightened political activity (including presidential elections or government crises) as readers feel compelled to inform themselves about public affairs but remains wide during times of normal political activity. Boczkowski and Mitchelstein also find that the gap is not affected by innovations in Web-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 through the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Drawing upon these findings, the authors explore the news gap’s troubling consequences for the matrix that connects communication, technology, and politics in the digital age.