Writer movements between news outlets reflect political polarization in media

Nick Hagar*, Johannes Wachs, Emőke Ágnes Horvát

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Digital news outlets rely on a variety of outside contributors, from freelance journalists, to political commentators, to executives and politicians. These external dependencies create a network among news outlets, traced along the contributors they share. Using connections between outlets, we demonstrate how contributors’ publishing trajectories tend to align with outlet political leanings. We also show how polarized clustering of outlets translates to differences in the topics of news covered and the style and tone of articles published. In addition, we demonstrate how contributors who cross partisan divides tend to focus on less explicitly political topics. This work addresses an important gap in the media polarization literature, by highlighting how structural factors on the production side of news media create an ecosystem shaped by political leanings, independent of the priorities of any one person or organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2034-2056
Number of pages23
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Computational methods
  • digital journalism
  • freelance journalism
  • network analysis
  • news production
  • polarization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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