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The Power of Algorithms: The Use of Algorithmic Logic and Human Curation at The Guardian
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Algorithms are part of most online activities but act largely in the background and remain hidden to the general public. They are programmed pieces of software that are designed to consume massive amounts of data and progress it into easy consumable pieces of information. Furthermore, that software is able to draw connections between pieces of information and filter it based on relevance or other criteria. What these criteria are and what they are based on often remains a well-kept secret. Companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Netflix all use algorithms to make sense of the ever-increasing amount of Data and suggest posts, movies or search results. With more and more people getting their news stories trough social media platforms and search engines, algorithms play an important role in the way we receive news. That lead to the questions of what power algorithms have over the news we see and what power they have over news organisations and journalism. To answer these broad questions, it was decided to focus on one large news organisations and examine what role algorithms play. The news organisation chosen for this research was The Guardian. In order to investigate these how and if algorithms are used, interviews with eight experts working at The Guardian were conducted. The informants were developers, engineers, product managers, editors and journalists in order to get a broader spectrum of possible frames in place. So as to analyse the interviews, tables were created to understand the way algorithms in relation to the institution of The Guardian and the power of editors were framed by the interviewees. One of the results that could be observed through the interviews and analysis was that algorithms will play an increasingly large role in The Guardian and possibly share their influence with editors. It can also be found that technology and news organisations will become more and more intertwined and data from users will be collected and analysed. The last part of the thesis discusses the impact of the results in a broader context and what further research can be done. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 129 p.
Keyword [en]
Algorithms, autonomous decision-making, public relevance algorithms, institutionalism, news organisation, The Guardian, digital journalism
National Category
Social Sciences Media and Communications
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120371OAI: diva2:852102
Available from: 2016-02-27 Created: 2015-09-08 Last updated: 2016-02-27Bibliographically approved

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