Accepted Papers

MediaRank: Compuational Ranking of Online News Sources

Junting Ye and Steven Skiena


In the recent political climate, the topic of news quality has drawn attention both from the public and the academic communities. The growing distrust of traditional news media makes it harder to find a common base of accepted truth. In this work, we design and build MediaRank (urlwww.media-rank.com ), a fully automated system to rank over 50,000 online news sources around the world. MediaRank collects and analyzes one million news webpages and two million related tweets everyday. We base our algorithmic analysis on four properties journalists have established to be associated with reporting quality: peer reputation, reporting bias/breadth, bottomline financial pressure, and popularity. Our major contributions of this paper include: (i) Open, interpretable quality rankings for over 50,000 of the world’s major news sources. Our rankings are validated against 35 published news rankings, including French, German, Russian, and Spanish language sources. MediaRank scores correlate positively with 34 of 35 of these expert rankings. (ii) New computational methods for measuring influence and bottomline pressure. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to study the large-scale news reporting citation graph in-depth. We also propose new ways to measure the aggressiveness of advertisements and identify social bots, establishing a connection between both types of bad behavior. (iii) Analyzing the effect of media source bias and significance. We prove that news sources cite others despite different political views in accord with quality measures. However, in four English-speaking countries (US, UK, Canada, and Australia), the highest ranking sources all disproportionately favor left-wing parties, even when the majority of news sources exhibited conservative slants.

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