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Universal patterns of online news impact

by   Matus Medo, et al.

Online news can quickly reach and affect millions of people, yet little is known about potential dynamical regularities that govern their impact on the public. By analyzing data collected from two nation-wide news outlets, we demonstrate that the impact dynamics of online news articles does not exhibit popularity patterns found in many other social and information systems. In particular, we find that the news comment count follows a universal exponential distribution which is explained by the lack of the otherwise omnipresent rich-get-richer mechanism. Exponential aging induces a universal dynamics of article impact. We finally find that the readers' collective attention does "stretch" in the presence of high-impact articles, thus effectively canceling possible competition among the articles. Our findings challenge the generality of widespread popularity dynamics patterns as well as common assumptions of attention economy, suggesting the need to critically reconsider the assumption that collective attention is inherently limited.


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