How to reach Nirvana: Yandex, news personalisation and the future of Russian journalistic media

Olga Dovbysh, Mariëlle Wijermars*, Mykola Makhortykh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Technological corporations and the digital services they provide play an increasingly important role in the production and dissemination of news, e.g., through media's growing reliance on algorithmic recommender systems that perform gatekeeping functions. Bringing together three areas of interest - the relationships between large technological corporations and the professional news media, the deployment of recommender systems in non-democracies, and their perceived effects - this article investigates the relationship between Russian media outlets and Yandex. It focuses on personalised content recommendation platform Yandex.Zen and its content prioritisation program "Nirvana." Combining a review of available procedural documents with interviews and auditing of the redistribution of journalistic content via Yandex.Zen, we examine how the power relations within the recommender system's multi-stakeholder environment condition journalistic practices. Among other findings, we demonstrate that the platform disincentivizes regional and negative content, which may result in depoliticisation of the news agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalDigital Journalism
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • News personalisation
  • algorithmic recommender systems
  • journalism
  • platform governance
  • Russia
  • Yandex
  • RECOMMENDER SYSTEMS
  • SOCIAL MEDIA

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