ARTICLE: The size of a minority drives its members’ news consumption

The larger a minority community is, the more they read news online, a study by Lisa M. George, of Hunter College, and Christian Peukert, of the Catholic University of Portugal, found. The authors analysed the online habits of nearly 36 000 American households and over 11 000 Twitter users.

The larger the number and proportion of Black Americans is to Whites in a given community, the more the Black households access local news online. This could mean larger Black communities entice news organisations to provide targeted coverage and so drum up more traffic. However, George and Peukert noticed the same result with national news: Blacks who live in larger Black communities read more online news – both local and national.

The effect of community size could be mediated through social networks, the authors thought. To investigate this, they constructed a sample of 11 479 Twitter accounts, classified by area and race. As expected, Blacks in larger Black communities have larger networks of Twitter friends and they post more messages.

The results have important implications, George and Peukert note: “If media firms increasingly direct resources toward content that gathers tweets, shares and ‘likes’, groups with a higher tendency to share may find themselves better served, and better informed.”

The article “Social Networks and the Demand for News” was published by the journal Information Economics and Policy. It is available on the publisher’s website (abstract free).

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