Media pluralism in the age of generative AI. Exploring the impact of online intermediaries on news consumption

2024-04-10 @ 15:30 – 16:45
Theatre, Badia Fiesolana, European University Institute
Media pluralism in the age of generative AI. Exploring the impact of online intermediaries on news consumption @ Theatre, Badia Fiesolana, European University Institute

Online intermediaries — like search engines, social media sites or apps, and news aggregators — exert a significant influence on how we read news online. Along with emerging technologies like generative AI, these services are disrupting how we create, verify, distribute and access news.

In this seminar, researchers from the UK’s communication body, The Office of Communications, will unveil key findings from their recent studies examining the influence of search engines, social media platforms, and news aggregators on the curation, presentation, accessibility, distribution and consumption of news.

In particular Ofcom will present the results of their experimental eye-tracking study which demonstrates that the ranking of news content in a social media feed has a substantial impact on the amount of time people spend viewing, reading, and engaging with news content. Additionally they will present the results of their content analysis – conducted with natural language processing – which found that while social media platforms expose people to a lot of different news outlets, they tend to expose them to a narrower range of news topics than they might encounter on traditional news websites. Lastly, they will reveal the results of their qualitative research on news consumption habits, which shows that people have limited control over their social media news feeds, therefore, trying to design interventions to improve the quality and breadth of news consumed on social media is a complex task.

The seminar will also feature a presentation of the Media Pluralism Monitor results for the United Kingdom in 2022, highlighting the key challenges facing the media landscape in the country, including issues related to ownership concentration, insufficient transparency in the disclosure of media ownership and the deteriorating economic sustainability of media outlets. Moreover, concerns regarding editorial independence, political interference, and the autonomy of public service media will be addressed. Finally, the presentation will reveal how the United Kingdom fares in terms of policies to promote gender equality, media literacy, and strategies for combatting disinformation and hate speech.

To cap off the seminar, there will be a joint Q&A and interactive discussion, where attendees can actively engage with presenters and fellow participants.

This seminar welcomes anyone interested in media pluralism and freedom of expression, including academics, journalists, media professionals, policymakers, and civil society representatives.