A recent Google News audit shows that the top 3 news outlets, CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, is favored by Google in their results a lot of the time. According to the audit, the top 20 percent (136 of 678 news sites) accounted for 86 percent of article impressions overall. Furthermore, “62.4 percent of article impressions were from sources rated by that research as left-leaning, whereas 11.3 percent were from sources rated as right-leaning. 26.3 percent of impressions were from news sources that didn’t have ratings”, according to CJR.
Nicholas Diakopoulos of the Columbia Journalism Review set up a scraper to evaluate and audit the Top Stories in Google News. They scraped Google’s news results based on 200 search queries related to news events that occurred in November 2017. They also set up the scaper to minimize the personalization of search results. They then ran each search query once per minute for a 24 hour period.
The search queries that they used were determined by looking at Google Trends every day and manually choosing keywords related to hard news events. For example, they used people mentioned in the news, breaking news events, and issue-specific keywords. Some of them included Colin Kaepernick, earthquake, tax reform, or even healthcare gov.
In total, they collected 6,302 unique links to news articles shown in Google’s Top Stories box. Then, “for each of those links count an article impression each time one of those links” appeared.
According to CJR, “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.” They went on to say that “on average there were 19 sources per query, but 30 percent of queries had 10 or fewer sources…”
More News is Produced by the Left
Here’s what I found interesting according to the audit: more news is produced by the Left than the Right.
“Is there simply more news produced on the left? It appears so. We confirmed this by searching the GDELT database of news articles for the same queries we used to audit Google. In GDELT there were 2.2 times as many articles from left-leaning sources as right-leaning sources. But in Google Top Stories that ratio was 3.2, indicating that the curation algorithm was slightly magnifying the left-leaning skew in comparison to the GDELT baseline.”
Personally, I’m not surprised that the top 3 news organizations essentially pump out more news than other right-leaning organization out there. As you may recall, I was interviewed by CBS News a while back about Google’s News algorithm and why it appeared that more left-leaning articles were being produced, especially when it came to news about Donald Trump. Well, now we have more answers.
Image/graphic courtesy CJR.