My final project-paper as part of my Master’s in Communication and Culture explores what motivates news organizations to employ algorithmically driven news personalization techniques and develops a methodology to determine whether journalism audiences have a preference between story lineups determined by an editor or by an algorithm. This work also examines whether news personalization systems meet the information needs of news audiences and works to determine what algorithmic approaches could better meet these needs.
Through the creation of a simple online news personalization system, this project developed a method driven by analytic measurement coupled with a survey approach to determine audience opinions on news recommendation systems. A small user study was conducted that supported the feasibility of the system as a research tool and identified possible improvements to my methodological choices.
The research presented as part of this project-paper found that news organizations use news personalization systems for a variety of economic and editorial reasons. This project also explored the social impacts of news personalization techniques and posits that there is nothing inherent to the design of personalization systems that precludes supporting the democratic and social ideals of journalism.