Welcome to a K3 seminar with Jakob Svensson, professor of Media and Communication Studies at K3. The title of his talk is:
Behind the News-Ranking Algorithm. Actors, conflicts and logics when implementing algorithmic automation
The talk will take place on Wednesday, April 17, at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.
Below you will find an abstract for the talk:
This study revolves around on the process of introducing and implementing an algorithm to rank and mix news on the front-page of a leading Scandinavian daily. The focus of this article is what happens to an institution with its’ taken-for-granted norms, rules and imagination, when introduced to algorithmic automation. This is studied through a qualitative methodology mainly consisting of interviews. The aim is to contribute with a sociological approach to researching algorithms with a focus on the actors, conflicts and logics involved behind algorithms. Actors involved can be grouped into traditional news actors (journalists and editors), and tech actors -(programmers, UX designers, data analysts, tech and web developers). The media group, to which the daily adhered, was an actor with its demand for profit, including the advertising and the subscription departments, as well as the newspaper brand and the algorithm itself. The study discerns three different logics, sometimes competing and sometimes intersecting: a market logic with its value of profit, a higher purpose logic of news journalism with its values of democracy, and finally a logic of personalization with its popularity principle and imagination of giving users what they want through an unbiased algorithm. The article concludes that while journalism is not completely taken over by programmers and algorithms, it is apparent that tech actors, with their values of user experience, rules of data-driven development and logic of personalization, are becoming a force to be reckoned with.