New publication: Algorithms and trust in media



A new book chapter is out! In this chapter, I explain how algorithms influence content distribution and content creation in newsrooms. To be more precise, I look at how personalisation of news content impacts the news experience of the reader, and demonstrate how automatically written articles slowly find their way into media coverage.

This is the abstract:

This chapter shows how algorithms affect journalistic practices and which implications can be drawn from that for audience trust in media. Algorithms, as encountered in e-shopping or on social media, are now commonly found in daily life, and journalism is no exception. To assess how journalism makes use of algorithms to both distribute and create content, two technologies are considered in this chapter: content personalisation and the automated creation of texts. Both technologies come with various implications and challenges for how news are perceived and written, both positive and negative. While, for example, content personalisation helps users to curate their news stream according to their interests, such a highly personalised news stream may enclose users in a filter bubble. The case of automation in news writing is even more complex, as, on the one hand, automation has the potential to free journalists from routine tasks and allows for more investigative reporting, but on the other hand produces quite simplistic articles that journalists feel do not adhere to their standards. Both cases demonstrate that a new social and economic relationship between technology and journalism develops in the newsroom. Thus, news outlets should be transparent about how they employ algorithmic content distribution and creation to ensure that these technologies do not undermine trust in media.

My chapter called “Journalists, Meet Your New Colleague algorithm: The Impact of Automation on Content Distribution and Content Creation in the Newsroom” is part of an edited collection on “Media Trust in a Digital World: Communication at Crossroads”. Editors Thomas Heinecke and Stephanie Heinecke worked hard to bring academics and practitioners together – and they (obviously) succeeded! All of the authors discuss the implications technology has for trust in media. A plethora of perspectives are featured, ranging from the big points of trust and communication in general, journalism and social media, and competencies and markets. The individual articles under these three headings cover much ground, such as financial consequences if trust in media declines, implications for local TV, and the influence of influencer marketing on audiences and the media. My chapter shows how technological changes in the journalistic profession affect journalists and editors – but, of course, also how the audience might feel about these profound changes that automation and algorithms bring about.

I’m glad that I was asked to part of this edited collection, and thank the editors for all their hard work. Now, on to new endeavours!