Journalists have substantial power to affect the national conversation

News shared on Twitter can drive conversation, study finds

By Niraj Chokshi | The New York Times

For years, investigating the American media’s influence on discourse has required studying the conversations we have at homes, in the public square and in office corridors, to try to understand what prompted them.

But a paper published in the journal Science offers a new, albeit unorthodox, method: The authors brought the media in on the experiment, persuading more than 30 outlets to agree to time publication of some stories so researchers could track how the pieces affected discussion online.

What they found is that even a handful of stories by mostly small publications can boost Twitter traffic on topics such as race or climate by 63 percent over the course of a week, relative to a typical day’s traffic on that subject.

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