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Stumbling upon news : understanding incidental news use as a continuum of user agency

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Abstract
To date, the growing body of scholarly work of mobile news use has focused on audiences who intentionally use their mobile devices to stay informed. This article argues that incidental mobile news consumption might be equally valuable to investigate, as these incidental news encounters might increase news diversity. As such, incidental news encounters might help to explain why the filter bubble theory cannot be found empirically. This article therefore aims to conceptualise incidental news on mobile devices and when incidental news then becomes valuable - or serendipitous – to news audiences. Second, this study evaluates how mobile recommendations might increase news diversity, more specifically topic, viewpoint and brand diversity. For this purpose, a mixed-method research design was used, that combined three research methods in the data collection phase based on 20 respondents: on-device logging, Mobile Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and interviews. Results show that incidental news differs in level of user agency, ranging from responding with no agency (e.g. message with news) to monitoring, by which a previous action (e.g. activated news notifications) facilitates incidental news, to seeking, incidental news by stumbling upon unexpected topics during news use. Incidental encounters become serendipitous when they provide new information or insights and consequently stick to one’s mind. Smartphones are perceived to not afford more serendipitous news encounters compared to other devices. Based on our findings, we developed a conceptual model for incidental news on smartphones, which shows the interplay of news recommendations by peers, algorithms and editors.
Keywords
News consumption, News diversity, Mixed-method research, Mobile news, Mobile DNA, Serendipity, Social recommendations

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MLA
Van Damme, Kristin, et al. “Stumbling upon News : Understanding Incidental News Use as a Continuum of User Agency.” Future of Journalism 2019, Abstracts, 2019.
APA
Van Damme, K., Martens, M., Van Leuven, S., Vanden Abeele, M., & De Marez, L. (2019). Stumbling upon news : understanding incidental news use as a continuum of user agency. In Future of Journalism 2019, Abstracts. Cardiff.
Chicago author-date
Van Damme, Kristin, Marijn Martens, Sarah Van Leuven, Mariek Vanden Abeele, and Lieven De Marez. 2019. “Stumbling upon News : Understanding Incidental News Use as a Continuum of User Agency.” In Future of Journalism 2019, Abstracts.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Damme, Kristin, Marijn Martens, Sarah Van Leuven, Mariek Vanden Abeele, and Lieven De Marez. 2019. “Stumbling upon News : Understanding Incidental News Use as a Continuum of User Agency.” In Future of Journalism 2019, Abstracts.
Vancouver
1.
Van Damme K, Martens M, Van Leuven S, Vanden Abeele M, De Marez L. Stumbling upon news : understanding incidental news use as a continuum of user agency. In: Future of Journalism 2019, Abstracts. 2019.
IEEE
[1]
K. Van Damme, M. Martens, S. Van Leuven, M. Vanden Abeele, and L. De Marez, “Stumbling upon news : understanding incidental news use as a continuum of user agency,” in Future of Journalism 2019, Abstracts, Cardiff, 2019.
@inproceedings{8625705,
  abstract     = {To date, the growing body of scholarly work of mobile news use has focused on audiences who intentionally use their mobile devices to stay informed. This article argues that incidental mobile news consumption might be equally valuable to investigate, as these incidental news encounters might increase news diversity. As such, incidental news encounters might help to explain why the filter bubble theory cannot be found empirically. This article therefore aims to conceptualise incidental news on mobile devices and when incidental news then becomes valuable - or serendipitous – to news audiences. Second, this study evaluates how mobile recommendations might increase news diversity, more specifically topic, viewpoint and brand diversity. 
For this purpose, a mixed-method research design was used, that combined three research methods in the data collection phase based on 20 respondents: on-device logging, Mobile Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and interviews. 
Results show that incidental news differs in level of user agency, ranging from responding with no agency (e.g. message with news) to monitoring, by which a previous action (e.g. activated news notifications) facilitates incidental news, to seeking, incidental news by stumbling upon unexpected topics during news use. Incidental encounters become serendipitous when they provide new information or insights and consequently stick to one’s mind. Smartphones are perceived to not afford more serendipitous news encounters compared to other devices. Based on our findings, we developed a conceptual model for incidental news on smartphones, which shows the interplay of news recommendations by peers, algorithms and editors.},
  author       = {Van Damme, Kristin and Martens, Marijn and Van Leuven, Sarah and Vanden Abeele, Mariek and De Marez, Lieven},
  booktitle    = {Future of Journalism 2019, Abstracts},
  keywords     = {News consumption,News diversity,Mixed-method research,Mobile news,Mobile DNA,Serendipity,Social recommendations},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Cardiff},
  pages        = {1},
  title        = {Stumbling upon news : understanding incidental news use as a continuum of user agency},
  year         = {2019},
}