A network perspective on intermedia agenda-setting

by   Samuel Stern, et al.

In Communication Theory, intermedia agenda-setting refers to the influence that different news sources may have on each other, and how this subsequently affects the breadth of information that is presented to the public. Several studies have attempted to quantify the impact of intermedia agenda-setting in specific countries or contexts, but a large-scale, data-driven investigation is still lacking. Here, we operationalise intermedia agenda-setting by putting forward a methodology to infer networks of influence between different news sources on a given topic, and apply it on a large dataset of news articles published by globally and locally prominent news organisations in 2016. We find influence to be significantly topic-dependent, with the same news sources acting as agenda-setters (i.e., central nodes) with respect to certain topics and as followers (i.e., peripheral nodes) with respect to others. At the same time, we find that the influence networks associated to most topics exhibit small world properties, which we find to play a significant role towards the overall diversity of sentiment expressed about the topic by the news sources in the network. In particular, we find clustering and density of influence networks to act as competing forces in this respect, with the former increasing and the latter reducing diversity.


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