What the Metrics Say. The Softening of News on the Facebook Pages of Mainstream Media Outlets

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Abstract

The contemporary high-choice media environment, characterized by information abundance, makes it increasingly difficult for media outlets to capture audience attention. This concern is particularly pressing for social media, and more specifically for Facebook. Because user engagement is a crucial input factor for the algorithm, fears have risen that journalistic content on digital news media and especially on social media is becoming softer to help adjust to news consumer’s interests. A content analysis was conducted on four consecutive weeks of all news items published online by five market-leading Belgian media outlets (N = 10,579) in order to analyse whether the news supply is adapted to “what the metrics say” and, subsequently, to what extent that metric data is used to promote a “softer” supply of news on Facebook. To measure audience engagement, we used unique metrics provided by the news organizations themselves. The results show that audience metrics support and enhance news softening on the Facebook pages of mainstream media outlets.

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APA

Lamot, K. (2021). What the Metrics Say. The Softening of News on the Facebook Pages of Mainstream Media Outlets. Digital Journalism. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2021.1974917

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