From Consumer Demand to User Engagement: Comparing the Popularity and Virality of Election Coverage on the Internet

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Previous research has identified a strong consumer demand for sensationalized and conflict-oriented news coverage. With the rise of social network services as central spaces for encountering news, there is a need to move beyond the notion of consumer demand (measured by attention to news stories) to a broader conception of user engagement (encompassing attention as well as social interactions online). This article seeks to remedy this by analyzing which parts of election coverage tend to become popular and go viral. It develops a concept of user agendas that include popularity (news stories that receive most clicks on news Web sites) and virality (stories that users share most intensively on social network sites). The article then applies the concepts in a case study of online news coverage during the 2015 Danish parliamentary election. Through an analysis of frames, sentiments, and actors, it is shown that game-strategic and personalized coverage tend to attract large-scale attention on news Web sites, whereas issue-oriented coverage fares better on social network sites. This suggests that what users demand depend on where they encounter news. Users tend to engage with one kind of news in private settings and another in the public settings on the social Internet.
Original languageDanish
JournalThe International Journal of Press/Politics
Volume24
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)49-68
Number of pages20
ISSN1940-1612
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 209467201