Every major mainstream media outlet has seen a massive traffic drop since President Donald Trump left office, and though the media isn’t covering President Joe Biden as it did Trump, there may be other reasons why traffic has tanked.
The Washington Post’s media reporter Paul Farhi posted a graphic on Twitter showing a massive drop off in traffic for 25 of the best known mainstream print and broadcast media outlets, including his own employer. All but one showed a drop in traffic from June 2020 to June 2021. The only media outlet to show improvement over that time was Buzzfeed, though it’s unclear whether the traffic is solely related to news or their other ventures.
The post-Trump news slump continues online. Traffic has declined at leading news sites almost every month since January peak and from a year ago. Latest figures from ComScore: pic.twitter.com/OR8KhPJlXT
— Paul Farhi (@farhip) July 19, 2021
The outlet with the biggest drop in traffic over the past year was Forbes, which lost just over 60% of its traffic since last June, according to Farhi’s graphic. In June 2020, Forbes had 113,477,000 million pageviews, but this year, for the same month, the outlet received just 44,645,000 pageviews.
Here’s how other major outlets fared:
- The Wall Street Journal: -19.9%
- CNN: -20.1%
- Axios: -26.1%
- Fox News: -26.2%
- NBC News: -27.4%
- The Washington Post: -27.5%
- The Guardian: -32.5%
- The Hill: -32.9%
- The New York Times: -33.9%
- The Los Angeles Times: -39.1%
- Politico: -44.4%
- The Atlantic: -51.9%
- Time: 51.9%
- ABC News: -55.6%
Media outlets won’t cover the Biden administration the way it covered Trump, even though it could. Since Biden is a Democrat, his administration gets the benefit of the doubt and spin that Trump never received. One could argue that Trump deserved the coverage, but that could be said of any president – the media just won’t cover a Democratic administration the way it will a Republican.
A blatant example was how the media has covered the border issues between the three presidents. Even though the Obama administration began the “kids in cages” treatment, it didn’t become a rallying cry for Democrats until the policy of migrant detention was continued under the Trump administration. Suddenly it was a huge human rights issue. Now that the Biden administration is in power – and the practice is continuing – the media has stopped caring.
They could say the difference was relating to family separations, but that was not the sole difference. The media treated these presidents differently for obvious reasons.
But is the drop in media traffic solely due to Trump?
Farhi wrote in March that the coronavirus pandemic had something to do with the drop, as the pandemic became an international story that started to wane after Trump left office.
There’s also some evidence that social media companies have played a role in the drop in traffic. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would be changing its algorithm to reduce the amount of political content users see in their news feeds. That NPR hit piece on The Daily Wire inadvertently showed that Facebook is likely throttling the reach of content with its chart showing the engagement per article for sites like The Daily Wire versus The New York Times and others. The line graph shows that liberal and conservative media outlets have seen a drop in engagements since last year, though The New York Times and The Washington Post have remained somewhat level.
This could also be due to people returning to work since the pandemic and consuming less news, but it’s just one of many factors leading to the traffic drop.
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