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Five Pieces You Should Probably Read On: Fake News and Filter Bubbles

Five Pieces You Should Probably Read On: Fake News and Filter Bubbles

  This is the second post in a series that will uncover great writing by faculty and students at the Oxford Internet Institute, things you should probably know, and things that deserve to be brought out for another viewing. This week: Fake News and Filter Bubbles! Fake news, post-truth, “alternative facts”, filter bubbles — this […]

Should there be a better accounting of the algorithms that choose our news for us?

A central ideal of democracy is that political discourse should allow a fair and critical exchange of ideas and values. But political discourse is unavoidably mediated by the mechanisms and technologies we use to communicate and receive information — and content personalization systems (think search engines, social media feeds and targeted advertising), and the algorithms […]

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Is Social Media Killing Democracy?

This is the big year for computational propaganda — using immense data sets to manipulate public opinion over social media. Both the Brexit referendum and US election have revealed the limits of modern democracy, and social media platforms are currently setting those limits. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook now provide a structure for our political lives. We’ve […]

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The life and death of political news: using online data to measure the impact of the audience agenda

The political agenda has always been shaped by what the news media decide to publish, and the question of how much influence the audience has in these decisions has always been ambiguous. To assess the possible influence of new audience metrics on decisions made by political news editors, Jonathan Bright and Tom Nicholls undertook a large-scale study of the relationship between readership statistics and article lifetime, described in their article: The Life and Death of Political News: Measuring the Impact of the Audience Agenda Using Online Data.

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Mapping collective public opinion in the Russian blogosphere

Blogs are becoming increasingly important for agenda setting and formation of collective public opinion on a wide range of issues — particularly in countries like Russia where the Internet is not technically filtered, but where the traditional media is tightly controlled by the state. Olessia Koltsova, author (with Sergei Koltcov) of the Policy and Internet paper Mapping the public agenda with topic modeling: The case of the Russian livejournal discusses how topic modeling and sentiment analysis techniques can be used to monitor self-generated public opinion.

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Is China shaping the Internet in Africa?

There are concerns that, just as Western countries have tried to promote their models of news media in Africa, China will try to export its own. However, no studies to date have proved this to be the case. Iginio Gagliardone (University of Oxford) discusses the themes of his paper “Partner, prototype or persuader? China’s renewed media engagement with Ghana”, which proposes a framework to understand Chinese engagement in the African mediasphere in terms of its original contributions, not simply as a negative of the impression left by the West.

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Uncovering the patterns and practice of censorship in Chinese news sites

China keeps sliding down the Press Freedom Index — now languishing in 174th place out of 179. While Internet censorship has attracted much attention from scholars and institutes, including IP blocking, keywords filtering and deletion in social media, censorial practices in news websites have never been comprehensively described or quantified. In their paper, “Unmasking News in Cyberspace: Examining Censorship Patterns of News Portal Sites in China” Sonya Y. Song (with Fei Shen, Mike Z. Yao, and Steven S. Wildman) present the first empirical study to systematically examine news deletion on major news portals in China.

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