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Attention for attention hotspots: exploring the newsworthiness of public response in the metric society


Fürst, Silke; Oehmer, Franziska (2021). Attention for attention hotspots: exploring the newsworthiness of public response in the metric society. Journalism Studies, 22(6):799-819.

Abstract

News value research assumes that news factors may shift and diversify over time. Despite the technological and economic transformations of the media over the past decades, however, there has been little conceptual work on how journalistic news factors might be changing. This paper addresses how broader developments, such as digitization, datafication, and audience fragmentation, lead to changing news practices. One characteristic of the digital age is that attention is not only scarce and increasingly contested but also continuously measured and compared, leading to a heightened value around everything that seems to draw an exceptional response. Therefore, we introduce the news factor “public response” and argue that journalism increasingly covers those issues and actors that (are said to) have received broad or unexpected public attention. Using numerical, linguistic, and visual means, journalists explicitly tell their audience what many people are paying attention to. We demonstrate the significance of this news factor by pursuing two objectives: First, public response is presented conceptually and distinguished from other news factors. Second, we use the case of the 2016 US election campaign coverage to illustrate public response and derive suggestions for future measurements in qualitative and quantitative textual and visual content analysis.

Abstract

News value research assumes that news factors may shift and diversify over time. Despite the technological and economic transformations of the media over the past decades, however, there has been little conceptual work on how journalistic news factors might be changing. This paper addresses how broader developments, such as digitization, datafication, and audience fragmentation, lead to changing news practices. One characteristic of the digital age is that attention is not only scarce and increasingly contested but also continuously measured and compared, leading to a heightened value around everything that seems to draw an exceptional response. Therefore, we introduce the news factor “public response” and argue that journalism increasingly covers those issues and actors that (are said to) have received broad or unexpected public attention. Using numerical, linguistic, and visual means, journalists explicitly tell their audience what many people are paying attention to. We demonstrate the significance of this news factor by pursuing two objectives: First, public response is presented conceptually and distinguished from other news factors. Second, we use the case of the 2016 US election campaign coverage to illustrate public response and derive suggestions for future measurements in qualitative and quantitative textual and visual content analysis.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute for Research on the Public Sphere and Society
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Uncontrolled Keywords:News values, news factors, news selection, attention, popularity, audience metrics, datafication, content analysis
Language:English
Date:3 May 2021
Deposited On:20 May 2021 08:53
Last Modified:21 May 2021 20:00
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1461-670X
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2021.1889396

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