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Computational Assessment of Hyperpartisanship in News Titles

by   Hanjia Lyu, et al.
University of Rochester

We first adopt a human-guided machine learning framework to develop a new dataset for hyperpartisan news title detection with 2,200 manually labeled and 1.8 million machine-labeled titles that were posted from 2014 to the present by nine representative media organizations across three media bias groups - Left, Central, and Right in an active learning manner. The fine-tuned transformer-based language model achieves an overall accuracy of 0.84 and an F1 score of 0.78 on an external validation set. Next, we conduct a computational analysis to quantify the extent and dynamics of partisanship in news titles. While some aspects are as expected, our study reveals new or nuanced differences between the three media groups. We find that overall the Right media tends to use proportionally more hyperpartisan titles. Roughly around the 2016 Presidential Election, the proportions of hyperpartisan titles increased in all media bias groups where the relative increase in the proportion of hyperpartisan titles of the Left media was the most. We identify three major topics including foreign issues, political systems, and societal issues that are suggestive of hyperpartisanship in news titles using logistic regression models and the Shapley values. Through an analysis of the topic distribution, we find that societal issues gradually receive more attention from all media groups. We further apply a lexicon-based language analysis tool to the titles of each topic and quantify the linguistic distance between any pairs of the three media groups. Three distinct patterns are discovered. The Left media is linguistically more different from Central and Right in terms of foreign issues. The linguistic distance between the three media groups becomes smaller over recent years. In addition, a seasonal pattern where linguistic difference is associated with elections is observed for societal issues.


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