Intermedia Reliance and Sustainability of Emergent Media: A Large-Scale Analysis of American News Outlets’ External Linking Behaviors
Although concerns over the sustainability of news outlets online have prevailed for the past decade, niche media—with partisan news outlets as a notable example—have been gaining more influence on public discourse. This study suggests information outsourcing via hyperlinks to other outlets as a sociotechnical factor that explains how online emergent media sustain themselves during the contemporary “period of disruption.” Using computational data collected from 89 U.S.-based news outlets, we applied a gravity model to analyze relationships between pairs of outlets and produced a novel spatial network visualization. We found that emergent media rely more heavily on legacy media as they become institutionalized. Further, we find that “antagonistic” linking across ideology is exclusively a conservative phenomenon. We argue that these patterns have been provided by the new technological affordances that have transformed journalism.