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The News that Make Us Click – University of Copenhagen

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The News that Make Us Click

PURPOSE: A large part of what we spend time on during the day is browsing websites and apps or scrolling through social media feeds. For many people, this involves reading news online. This project investigates which stories attract attention on news websites and social media. The goal is to understand what makes the popular stories – the ones we tend to click on most often - stand out from the unpopular. By analyzing the content and structure of these news headlines we can get a better sense of what kind of news makes us click.

METHOD: The project draws on digital as well as traditional methods. We collected headlines of the “most read” and “most shared” news stories with web scraping techniques throughout the full year of 2015 across more than 20 news websites. The analysis builds on traditional content analysis, but seeks to automatize the coding process through data science techniques.

PARTICIPANTS: The project is run by Jacob Ørmen, MEF, and with participation from Casper Petersen, Computer Science.

FUNDING: The project is funded by the CCC.

CONTACT: Postdoc Jacob Ørmen,

FURTHER READING: The theoretical framework builds on the literature on agenda-setting and framing. The methodology draws inspiration in particular from Jonathan Bright’s paper “The social news gap: how news reading and news sharing diverge” published in Journal of Communication, 66(3), 345-365.