As Reported By DailyWire| Google is one of the largest traffic drivers for news websites and, according to the Columbia Journalist Review, its influence is growing as Facebook’s traffic referrals decline.
“But for all the influence Google has in directing attention, we know painfully little about how its algorithm selects and curates news. Which sites does it direct traffic toward? And how does Google’s news curation impact the diversity of information found?” wrote researcher Nicholas Diakopoulos.
He and fellow researcher Daniel Trielli used the Computational Journalism Lab at Northwestern University to audit the search engine’s “Top Stories” to determine what websites received the most help from Google.
The team ran more than 200 search queries of various news topics in November 2017, such as “Colin Kaepernick,” “earthquake,” tax reform,” and “healthcare gov.” The researchers did everything they could to “minimize the potential for result personalization” and ran their queries each minute over a 24-hour period. The result: 6,302 unique links found in Top Stories. The researchers counted “an article impression each time one of those links appears.” (Emphasis original)
“The data shows that just 20 news sources account for more than half of article impressions. The top 20 percent of sources (136 of 678) accounted for 86 percent of article impressions. And the top three accounted for 23 percent: CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. These statistics underscore the degree of concentration of attention to a relatively narrow slice of news sources,” Diakopoulos found.
Behind the Post, which accounted for 5.6% of the impressions for the top 20 sources, was Fox News, with 3%. Fox was the only outlet on the list that could be considered right-leaning.
“Prior research has shown that search engines can affect users’ attitudes, shape opinions, alter perceptions and reinforce stereotypes, as well as affect how voters come to be informed during elections. As such, media diversity is an important aspect to the way that Google—or any news aggregator—curates sources and perspectives,” Diakopoulos wrote.
It’s difficult to consider the other outlets — especially CNN, the Times, and the Post — as anything other than left-leaning at this point, given their coverage of President Donald Trump’s administration these past two years and their hype of the Russia-collusion hoax.