The public and legislative impact of hyperconcentrated topic news

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Science Advances  28 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaat8296
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat8296


News has been shown to influence public perception, affect technology development, and increase public expression. We demonstrate that framing, a subjective aspect of news, appears to influence both significant public perception changes and federal legislation. We show that specific features of news, such as publishing volume, appear to influence sustained public attention, as measured by annual Google Trends data, and federal legislation. We observe that federal legislative activity is often foreshadowed by periods of high news volume and similarity between articles, which we call hyperconcentrated news periods. Last, we contribute the measures of framing density and framing polarity, which provide a quantitative assessment of news framing in a domain. We demonstrate that these measures appear to correlate substantially with the results of earlier human surveys. We note, however, that our analysis does not disprove reverse causality and does not model other confounding factors.

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