by Neil Thurman — published in 2011

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Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, 12(4), May 2011

The mechanisms of personalization deployed by news websites are resulting in an increasing number of editorial decisions being taken by computer algorithms—many of which are under the control of external companies—and by end users. Despite its
prevalence, personalization has yet to be addressed fully by the journalism studies literature (Zelizer, 2009). This study defines personalization as a distinct form of interactivity and classifies its explicit and implicit forms. Using this taxonomy, it surveys
the use of personalization at eleven national news websites in the UK and US. Research interviews bring a qualitative dimension to the analysis, acknowledging the influence that institutional contexts and journalists’ attitudes have on the adoption of technology. The study shows how: personalization informs debates on news consumption, content diversity, and the economic context for journalism; and challenges the continuing relevance of established theories of journalistic gate-keeping.

Academic sector, Political/Regulatory/Legal, Social, Technological, web personalisation, privacy, access to information, online journalism, tracking