The tensions between news content providers and distribution platforms?
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With the rise of social media as a major news sources for many readers, news publishers are now extensively using social media platforms in the hope of reaching more readers and creating much needed revenue. However, readers’ online engagement is dropping and the digital revenue are mainly received by big technological companies like Facebook. Therefore, the dissertation attempts to answer the following questions: First, to what degree does the social network of Facebook influence news engagement? Second, what factors engage readers, in terms of news perceived attributes and social networks? Third, to what extent does engagement enhance brand awareness and further readers’ brand loyalty, the credibility of newspapers, perceived news satisfaction and perceived quality of news? Combining the idea of business model and uses and gratifications theory, the dissertation proposed a theoretical framework to examine how news perceived attributes and social networks affect news engagement through social media and hence influence brand awareness, loyalty, the credibility of newspapers, perceived news satisfaction and perceived quality of news based on this framework. An online panel survey was conducted. The sample of this study included adults who reside in the United States and are older than 18. The sample size of this study is 588. The results showed that news engagement, where news that attracts and holds readers’ attention, on Facebook, increases the brand loyalty of newspapers and Facebook. Brand wise both Facebook and newspapers benefit when news is distributed through Facebook. The study challenges popular beliefs about the influence of Facebook on the business of journalism and shows that Facebook and newspapers are mutually beneficial in helping build the brand loyalty of both. It also shows that tie strength and not homophily encourages the sharing of news on Facebook. While these results may seem optimistic, the study further suggests that leveraging Facebook as a news distribution platform to engage audiences should be treated more cautiously.