Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: New Results

The News We Like Are Not the News We Visit: News Categories Popularity in Usage Data

Participants: Renata Teixeira (MiMove), Giuseppe Scavo (MiMove, Nokia Bell Labs), Zied Ben-Houidi (Nokia Bell-Labs), Stefano Traverso, Marco Mellia (Politecnico di Torino)

Most of our knowledge about online news consumption comes from survey-based news market reports, partial usage data from a single editor, or what people publicly share on social networks. Our work published on the 13th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-2019) complements these sources by presenting the first holistic study of visits across online news outlets that a population uses to read news. We monitored the entire network traffic generated by Internet users in four locations in Italy. Together these users generated 80 million visits to 5.4 million news articles in about one year and a half. This unique view allowed us to evaluate how usage data complements existing data sources. We find for instance that only 16% of news visits in our datasets came from online social networks. In addition, the popularity of news categories when considering all visits is quite different from the one when considering only news discovered on social media, or visits to a single major news outlet. Interestingly, a substantial mismatch emerges between self-reported news-category preferences (as measured by Reuters Institute in the same year and same country) and their actual popularity in terms of visits in our datasets. In particular, unlike self-reported preferences expressed by users in surveys that put “Politics”, “Science” and “International” as the most appreciated categories, “Tragedies and Weird news" and “Sport” are by far the most visited. Our paper discusses two possible causes of this mismatch and conjecture that the most plausible reason is the disassociation that may occur between individuals’ cognitive values and their cue-triggered attraction.