The Media Coverage of the 2020 US Presidential Election Candidates through the Lens of Google's Top Stories
Choosing the political party nominees, who will appear on the ballot for the US presidency, is a long process that starts two years before the general election. The news media plays a particular role in this process by continuously covering the state of the race. How can this news coverage be characterized? Given that there are thousands of news organizations, but each of us is exposed to only a few of them, we might be missing most of it. Online news aggregators, which aggregate news stories from a multitude of news sources and perspectives, could provide an important lens for the analysis. One such aggregator is Google's Top stories, a recent addition to Google's search result page. For the duration of 2019, we have collected the news headlines that Google Top stories has displayed for 30 candidates of both US political parties. Our dataset contains 79,903 news story URLs published by 2,168 unique news sources. Our analysis indicates that despite this large number of news sources, there is a very skewed distribution of where the Top stories are originating, with a very small number of sources contributing the majority of stories. We are sharing our dataset1 so that other researchers can answer questions related to algorithmic curation of news as well as media agenda setting in the context of political elections.