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Digital intermediaries in the UK: implications for newsplurality

Tambini, Damian and Labo, Sharif (2016) Digital intermediaries in the UK: implications for newsplurality. Info, 18 (4). pp. 33-58. ISSN 1463-6697

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Identification Number: 10.1108/info-12-2015-0056


Digital intermediaries such as Google and Facebook are seen as the new power brokers in online news, controlling access to consumers and even suppressing or targeting messages. After reviewing literature that raised this concern, this paper examines empirical evidence for the claim that intermediaries pose a threat to news plurality. We introduce a three-stage analytical framework for measuring the role of intermediaries within the current policy framework for media plurality: (i) analysis of share of online in news consumption (ii) role of intermediaries (iii) degree of bias versus neutrality of intermediary control of news. Through secondary analysis of UK industry data on referrals of online news traffic, we find that an increasing proportion of news is delivered online, and a significant proportion of online news is accessed via intermediaries. However, we find that not all news that is filtered through intermediary services is subject to the same shaping and editorial forces, in part because user agency is also an important factor. The role of intermediaries in news distribution is thus complex; market share and market concentration does not translate automatically into influence due to the complex interplay between user agency and the editorial influence of intermediaries.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Emerald Publishing Group
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2016 14:37
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:16

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