This work establishes a framework for analyzing the evolution of news dissemination in online spaces. The initial study analyzes the flow of information in a network of online news sites. Social network theory and research on hyperlinked networks of Web pages were used to develop a model of information flow among groups of Web sites. Kleinberg’s authority-hub model is extended by introducing sources of information in the network. Examining linking patterns and the flow of information, the influence of a small number of central information hubs is analyzed as the result of their network positions. Significant support was found for a modified Source-Authority-Hub model, which shows the source, directionality, routing, and destination of news information flow through a network of authorities and hubs. This model demonstrates the ability of key Web sites to control the flow of news and information. Applications of the model to over-time data has the potential to predict future changes in the online news industry. This initial study lays a framework for conducting evolutionary analysis of the dissemination of digital information. Subsequent preliminary research extends this work to the examination of strategic alliances between media organizations, as well as to changes in information dissemination over time.
Matthew S. Weber
Matthew S. Weber Annenberg School for Communication University of Southern California