Polarization, News Sharing, and Gatekeeping: A study of the Bolsonaro Election


The increasing importance of news sharing as a digital business model raises new questions about content creation in polarized environments. In this article, we propose a model where news organizations, concerned with maximizing market shares, select editorial lines that cater to politically polarized consumers. Our model shows that positive reputation assessments by readers will be associated with media moderation while low reputation outlets will benefit from publicizing more extreme positions. The model provides a road map to researchersinterested in the relationship between two major theories in political communication, news sharing and editorial gatekeeping. We test the proposed theory with Twitter data collected during the election of populist leader Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.

Working Paper, Under review