Why do we click? Investigating reasons for user selection on a news aggregator website

Sabrina Heike Kessler 1  and Ines Engelmann 2
  • 1 IKMZ – Department of Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2 Institute of Communication Research, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
Sabrina Heike Kessler
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  • IKMZ – Department of Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
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and Ines Engelmann


The aim of this study is to analyze the reasons behind users’ selection of news results on the news aggregator website, Google News, and the role that news factors play in this selection. We assume that user’s cognitive elaboration of users influences their news selection. In this study, a multi-method approach is used to obtain a complete picture of the users’ news selection reasoning: an open survey, a closed survey, and a content analysis of screen recording data. The results were determined from online news selection of 90 news results from 47 users on Google News. Different news values could be identified as relevant for selection: time-referenced news factors and news factors of social significance were shown to be more important than the news factors of deviance. News cues (presence of a picture, position of a news result, source) were identified as selection reasons regardless of the level of cognitive elaboration during the online browsing process.

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The European Journal of Communication Research is an established forum for scholarship and academic debate in the field of communication science and research from a European perspective. Communications highlights the concerns of communication science through the publication of articles, research reports, review essays and book reviews on theoretical and methodological developments considered from a European perspective.