Social Media Influence Mainstream Media: Evidence from Two Billion Tweets

128 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2020 Last revised: 20 Feb 2024

See all articles by Julia Cage

Julia Cage

Sciences Po Paris Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Nicolas Herve

Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (Ina)

Beatrice Mazoyer

University of Paris-Saclay - CentraleSupélec

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 30, 2020

Abstract

This paper investigates whether news editors’ editorial decisions are influenced by the popularity of news stories on social media. To do so, we build a novel dataset containing around 70% of all the tweets produced in French between August 2018 and July 2019 and the content published online by the universe of general information media. We develop novel algorithms to identify and link events on social and mainstream media. To isolate the causal impact of popularity, we propose a new instrument based on the interaction between measures of user centrality and social-media specific shocks to content popularity. We show that, for a given story’s newsworthiness, its social media popularity increases its coverage by mainstream media, particularly for media relying strongly on advertising revenues. This reflects the distortive effect of social media, with respect to both the public service mission of mainstream media and consumers’ preferences. Our findings – which we relate to the overall transformation of the media industry – shed new light on news production decisions in the digital age and the welfare effects of social media.

Keywords: Internet, Information spreading, News diversity, Newsworthiness, News edi- tors, Network analysis, Social media, Twitter, Text analysis

JEL Classification: C31, D85, L14, L15, L82, L86

Suggested Citation

Cage, Julia and Herve, Nicolas and Mazoyer, Beatrice, Social Media Influence Mainstream Media: Evidence from Two Billion Tweets (July 30, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3663899 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3663899

Julia Cage (Contact Author)

Sciences Po Paris Department of Economics ( email )

28 Rue des Saints-Pères
Paris, 75007
France

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Nicolas Herve

Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (Ina) ( email )

France

Beatrice Mazoyer

University of Paris-Saclay - CentraleSupélec ( email )

Gif-sur-Yvette, 91190
France

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