Is the Internet a Converged Space? A Historical Institutionalist Approach to Studying the American and British Media Systems

  • Evan Vellis

Student thesis: Phd


In the last twenty years, the way in which individuals consume news about politics has changed. As the internet becomes increasingly accessible, convenient, and inexpensive, more consumers than ever before choose to get their news online. As this migration continues, an understanding of online news consumption becomes increasingly important to the study of media systems. There are several ways in which the internet can be truly transformative – this thesis investigates some of these claims as they pertain to the comparative study of media systems. The primary dimension of analysis presented here investigates the internet’s role in facilitating the homogenisation, or convergence of domestic media systems. Using a historical institutionalist approach, this thesis examines internet news in the United States and the United Kingdom, two cases at the centre of this debate. To adequately reflect the diversity present in online news consumption, this project uses a dataset comprised of news stories about two national election campaigns accessed via search engines, news aggregators, and social media. The analysis presented here demonstrates the complexity of the online news environment, highlighting key areas like source distribution and regional news content where path dependency has persisted despite the transition to online news, and those areas such as regional news sources where distinguishing between the two cases is more difficult. Where this is the case, the thesis explores alternative the explanations of Americanisation and technological determinism. Variance between Google, News360, and NewsWhip data collected for this thesis demonstrates how the way in which consumers get their news influences how converged or path dependent the media system appears.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMaria Sobolewska (Supervisor)


  • news consumption
  • historical institutionalism
  • media systems
  • political communication

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