The Choice Gap: The Divergent Online News Preferences of Journalists and Consumers

Pablo J Boczkowski*, Limor Peer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


This study examines 4 online news sites to compare stories that journalists display most prominently with stories consumers read most frequently. We find that journalists' chosen stories are "soft" with respect to subject matter but not story format, and that these choices diverge from consumers' choices, resulting in a choice gap. The study design makes important methodological contributions by using the story as the unit of analysis, operationalizing "soft news" in terms of subject matter as well as format, and considering the influence of journalists' and consumers' choices on each other. This article discusses the implications of the findings on such issues as the dynamics of agenda setting, the prospects for consumer-authored content, and the watchdog function of the media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-876
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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