Social Networks, Social Communication and the Demand for News

24 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2015 Last revised: 2 Oct 2015

Lisa Megargle George

Hunter College, CUNY; The Graduate Center, CUNY

Christian Peukert

Universidade Catolica Portuguesa

Date Written: September 19, 2015


We establish a relationship between local social networks, social communication and the demand for news, using the racial composition of localities to infer social networks for minority individuals within a geographic area. Using data from 11,494 African-American and white Twitter users, we demonstrate that a larger local group population increases both the size of users’ online social networks and their supply of information to the network. We further show that a larger peer community increases news demand online, and that the effect cannot be explained solely by the incentives of suppliers. Our results provide an empirical foundation for the transmission of peer effects, and suggest that policies to develop social networks may be more effective than supply interventions in increasing news consumption in digital markets.

Keywords: News, Social Media, Media, Internet, Digitization, Digital Divide

Suggested Citation

George, Lisa Megargle and Peukert, Christian, Social Networks, Social Communication and the Demand for News (September 19, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Lisa Megargle George

Hunter College, CUNY ( email )

695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
United States

The Graduate Center, CUNY ( email )

365 Fifth Avenue
New York,, NY 10016
United States

Christian Peukert (Contact Author)

Universidade Catolica Portuguesa ( email )


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