PAPER: The relation between foreign news coverage and web search activity

Picture: Globe map by Duangphorn Wiriya, license CC0 1.0

If a country gets major media attention from other countries, does it also come up in people’s searches? Haewoon Kwak, Jisun An, Joni Salminen, Soon-Gyo Jung and Bernard J. Jansen, all of Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar, studied media attention and public interest towards different topics.

Researchers collected one hundred most popular topics daily for 193 countries from Unfiltered News aggregator. They compared these with web search volume data from one country about another country among the same countries from Google Trends during a fourteen-month period from March 2016 to April 2017.

The structural characteristics of media attention and public attention are similar at some levels and different at others, the paper finds. Media attention and the public attention within the same region strongly associate with each other.

A trend of ‘global village’, where several countries exchange attention beyond regional blocks, was more noticeable in the media attention than the public attention. “Clearer geographical splits in the public attention imply that the cultural affinity within a region matters more to individuals’ information-seeking behavior”, the authors conclude.

The conference paper “What We Read, What We Search” was published in WWW ’18 Proceedings of the 2018 World Wide Web Conference and is freely available online (open access).

Picture: Globe map by Duangphorn Wiriya, license CC0 1.0

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