Controversy Score Calculation for News Articles

aul Kim, Ziyu Fan, Lance Fernando, Jacques Sham, Crystal Sun, Yixin Sun, Brian Wright, Xi Yang, Nicholas Ross and Diane Myung-kyung Woodbridge


From the 2016 election continuing to the present, a strong focus has developed on the US news media landscape. From issues such as fake news to ideological wars between news sources, helping readers become more discerning news consumers remains a priority for technologists and journalists alike. This paper is a summary of our contribution to the continuing discussion of public empowerment towards making more informed news consumption decisions. In this paper we introduce NewsPhi, a news-feed application designed to provide topic-based contextual information on a changing corpus of daily news. NewsPhi’s main contribution is a “controversy score” of news topics - a score that summarizes how controversial a certain news topic is according to the larger media environment. We find that this approach to building products for news readers is both unique and in line with ongoing bias and opinion formation research in the social sciences. Rather than seeking to correct or standardize news opinions, NewsPhi provides important contextual information to inform readers of existing opinions on existing and new topics while also lightly encouraging further exploration.

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