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Presentation by Dainis Zegners about “If it Bleeds, it Leads: Attention and Negativity in Online News”

On 13th January 2020 (1-2pm) Dainis Zegners, Assistant Professor at the Rotterdam School of Management, will give a presentation about “If it Bleeds, it Leads: Attention and Negativity in Online News” in Q4.245. Afterwards, Mr. Zegners will be available for questions and discussions. His presentation is part of:


What drives the demand for news? Building on an attention-based theory of news consumption, we hypothesize that readers pay more attention and are thus more likely to read news articles with either more polarized or more negative headlines. This gives news sites the incentive to select news stories with more negative or more polarized content and to position those articles more prominently on their websites. Using a large-scale dataset on 360,000 articles published in 2017 by the largest German online news sites and a Machine Learning approach to estimate the sentiment of the text of articles, we find that while negativity is the main driver of determining the positioning and number of views of articles, polarity is the main driver of the selection of news articles that news sites publish. Our results imply a potentially serious problem for societies where democratic processes rely on an informed electorate.

The University for the Information Society