The promise and the premise: How digital media present big data
Keywords:big data, mass media, Argentinian digital press, media construction, Niklas Luhmann
This paper analyzes the thematic and discursive construction of big data by the Argentine digital press. Using text mining techniques — topic modelling and enriched associative networks — together with qualitative and quantitative content analysis — in both discourse and images — over 2,026 articles, we sought to identify the topics wherein big data is treated, the promises and risks it addresses, its definition within the semantic field in which is explicitly expressed, and the pictures that illustrate it. Results herein presented compare how big data is portrayed in news about politics, business, and technological innovations, as well as in focal pieces targeted to a generic and massive audience, and critical reflections about its risks. Although in each of those thematic contexts big data is anchored differently, there is a common idea that associates big data with a socio-technological premise and an epistemic promise: because of the availability of large volumes of data, something new that will allow better decisions can be known. Our exploration contributes to a more detailed knowledge on how the news media social systems make sense of novel phenomena such as big data.
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