The Spaces of Sensationalism: A Comparative Case Study of the New York Journal and BuzzFeed

David Elliot Berman


This article examines how space mediates the relationship between publishers and public attention. Drawing on a heterodox reading of attention economics, it relates the rise of the yellow newspaper the New York Journal and the viral news publisher BuzzFeed to the spatial structure of two marketplaces of attention: the streets of New York City in the late 1890s and the Facebook News Feed today. It finds that the sensationalist media forms developed by these two publishers were institutional adaptations to spaces in which information and sensation were heavily concentrated; time–space was radically compressed; and multiple different social contexts were collapsed. By juxtaposing Facebook’s News Feed with the streets of New York City, this article ultimately endeavors toward a more rigorous understanding of the space of social media.


space, attention economics, BuzzFeed, New York Journal, sensationalism, news feed

Full Text: