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Power Structure in Chilean News Media

Authors: Jorge Bahamonde, Johan Bollen, Erick Elejalde, Leo Ferres, Barbara Poblete

Even democracies endowed with the most active free press struggle to maintain diversity of news coverage. Consolidation and market forces may cause only a few dominant players to control the news cycle. Editorial policies may be biased by corporate ownership relations, narrowing news coverage and focus. To an increasing degree this problem also applies to social media news distribution, since it is subject to the same socio-economic drivers. To study the effects of consolidation and ownership on news diversity, we model the diversity of Chilean coverage on the basis of ownership records and social media data. We create similarity networks of news outlets on the basis of their ownership and the topics they cover. We then examine the relationships between the topology of ownership networks and content similarity to characterize how ownership affects news coverage. A network analysis reveals that Chilean media is highly concentrated both in terms of ownership as well as in terms of topics covered. Our method can be used to determine which groups of outlets and ownership exert the greatest influence on news coverage.

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