CIVICA Applied Data Science Seminar Series

Session 6 - Spring 2024

Session 6 - Spring 2024 will take place on Wednesday, 4:00 PM CET 17 April 2023, on Zoom Meeting

About The Series

The CIVICA Data Science Seminar series is a unique multi-disciplinary series focused on applications and methodologies of data science for the social, political, and economic world.

Session 6 - Spring 2024 Details

In the online age, autocracies' censors must manage abundant information. At the same time, they face consumers with varying valuations for investigative content. This paper reveals a strategic pattern in the placement of news within Chinese online newspapers (2020-22). Studying over a million articles from 53 news outlets, I show that front-page articles are more likely to feature content favored by the government relative to articles published in other locations of news websites. Different text-based measures are employed to determine each article's alignment with the government's preferred content: Citing the government's press agency, Xinhua, makes an article approximately eight percentage points more likely to feature on the front-page. Similarly, a one-standard-deviation decrease in the resemblance with foreign content on China increases the front-page placement probability by 1.1 percentage points. Both theoretical and empirical evidence suggest that foreign information sources -- costly but not impossible to access for an investigative minority of readers -- influence domestic censorship strategies.

Seminar Speaker

Dr. Philine Widmer
Dr. Philine Widmer

Philine is a Post-Doctoral researcher at ETH Zurich's Center for Law & Economics. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of St.Gallen in 2023. Philine's research covers topics related to the media, algorithms, and their relation to political and market institutions. Methodologically, she specializes in developing new approaches to quantify politically and economically relevant concepts from unstructured data such as text.


Julia Leschke

Welcome Introduction Julia Leschke, European University Institute

Setting the scene: Brief intro to the speaker and her talk

Dr. Philine Widmer

Seminar Session Dr. Philine Widmer, ETH Zurich

Is Propaganda Front-Page News?

Research Discussion. Lead Institution

Q&A / Discussion on the research


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