A Computational Mapping of Online News Deserts on African News Websites

MADRID-MORALES, Daniel, RODRIGUEZ-AMAT, Joan Ramon and LINDNER, Peggy (2023). A Computational Mapping of Online News Deserts on African News Websites. Media and Communication, 11 (3).

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To date, the study of news deserts, geographic spaces lacking local news and information, has largely focused on countries in the Global North, particularly the United States, and predominantly been interested in the causes and consequences of the disappearance of local media outlets (e.g., newspapers and TV stations) to the social fabric of a community. In this article, we extend the concept of “news deserts” by drawing on literature on the geography of news in Africa, where information voids have long been documented but not been studied within the conceptual framework of news deserts. Using computational tools, we analyse a sample of 519,004 news articles published in English or French by news websites in 39 African countries. We offer evidence of the existence of online news deserts at two levels: at a continental level (i.e., some countries/regions are hardly ever covered by online media of other African countries) and at a domestic level (i.e., online news media of a given country seldom cover large areas of said country). This paper contributes to the study of news deserts by a) examining a continent that has not been featured in previous research, b) testing a methodological approach that employs computational tools to study news geographies online and c) exploring the flexibility of the term and its applicability to different media ecosystems.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 4701 Communication and media studies; 4702 Cultural studies
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v11i3.6857
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 04 May 2023 08:57
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 11:31
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/31840

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