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PROJECT: How are news tailored to individuals?

Featured image: NYC Street Scenes by Steven Pisano, license CC BY 2.0, modified

Damian Trilling is an Assistant Professor for political communication and journalism at the Department of Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. Trilling is taking part in a ongoing research project “Personalised Communication”.

What should I read?

Nowadays communication is more and more tailored to individuals by social networking sites and different recommendations systems. These mechanism can have serious implications for society.

“On the one hand, if people get to see what they are really interested in, it might enhance their engagement with the news – but on the other hand, if people only get to see what they already agree with, this could lead to distorted perceptions of public opinion and, ultimately, to polarization of society”, Trilling explains.

Two years of news use

The research project will track the news use of approximately 500 people via a browser plugin over the course of two years. This data will be combined with an automated content analysis of the news items that appear in the tracking data and a survey about the background of the participants. Using this research data the researchers hope to understand how news are used and distributed in today’s online environment. The data collection for the project will start during this autumn, Trilling estimates.

Generally speaking, Trilling is interested in how news spreads in an online environment, debates in user comment sections and economic news coverage. He is developing and using automated content analysis methods to study all these issues. He’s also teaching these research skills. One example is a tutorial on how to do computational research with Python.

Damian Trilling of the University of Amsterdam

You can find info on Trilling on his personal website, Personalised Communication website, Centre for Politics and Communication site and on Twitter.

Featured image: NYC Street Scenes by Steven Pisano, license CC BY 2.0, modified

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