Research: Finding online health news and mapping the links

This Friday (27/01) researcher Joyce Stroobant will present the results of an online investigation of health news at the ‘Digital Opportunities and Challenges’ conference organized by the University of Sheffield's Department of Journalism Studies. Over the last decades, traditional news media have migrated to online environments, but also new net-born players have emerged. In her talk, Joyce will focus on how this mix of traditional and net-born publishers come together online to form a hyperlinked network. Journalistic use of links may improve the audience’s overall news experience. For example, by linking to additional information, alternative accounts of the same event, related institutions, or practical guidelines, information pathways are set out for the interested reader to follow. Particularly when it comes to health issues, which are often highly personal, the possibility for individuals to walk their own informational pathway by clicking on links constitutes an added value. Based on the search engine results for the query “gezondheidsnieuws” from Google, Yahoo & Bing!, Joyce identified 9 Dutch-language health news websites in which 5428 unique hyperlinks were found. After pagegrouping, i.e. grouping all the pages from the same domain together, this number was reduced to 235 domains. These domains were then coded and mapped to visually represent where hyperlinks lead and whether or not these nine thematically coherent websites form a network through which users can navigate. The results and implications of this case study will be discussed through a theoretical gatekeeping lens.