Competing narratives about the impact of fake news on political participation, entrenchment of political views, the ubiquity of media environments, and anxiety in news and media consumption raise a number of interrelated tensions surrounding how new technologies, news reporting and consumption, and political events interact and are socially processed. Situated within a discussion of how digital technologies have impacted journalism and the nature of news consumption overall, Pushing News Agendas promotes future studies of push notifications by creating an open database, as well as pursues a variety of empirical questions about push notifications, personalization, media anxiety, and deception and manipulation. The empirical project, which employs established computational linguistics and sentiment analysis approaches, explores: 1) how push notifications and online “breaking news” phenomenon differ from traditional news reporting; 2) how partisan views of news outlets affect editorial and distributional decisions around push notifications; 3) to what extent push notifications are personalized and how this personalization may contribute to the echo chamber effect in news consumption; 4) how perceived objectivity in journalism affects reader trust; 5) how topics are structured for push notification distribution; and 6) what this means for participatory politics and its relationship to the Fourth Estate. The project builds upon Sanfilippo and Lev-Aretz’s preliminary paper, “Breaking News,” which introduced and contextualized the research project within legal and media scholarship, as well as illustrated patterns and key insights through a case study comparing reporting on President Nixon firing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox to President Trump firing FBI Director James Comey.
Project leads: Yafit Lev-Aretz, Madelyn Sanfilippo