Is Trump News Still Big News for Digital Publishers? Not Anymore

    by Jeiran Jahani
    November 3, 2016
    Photos by Krassotkin and Gage Skidmore.

    The following piece is a guest post from Jeiran Jahani, data scientist at ChartBeat. Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this publication. Read more about MediaShift guest posts here.

    Over the last 18 months, we’ve heard repeatedly that Trump is dominating the media. But is that still true? New data from Chartbeat suggests not anymore.

    Are people actually reading these stories or are publishers writing into a void?

    Analyzing a sample of top news sites across the globe and the U.S. who allow for anonymous and aggregate analysis of content, Chartbeat pulled the number of mentions for Trump and Clinton back in May of this year, and Trump news dominated. No question about it. At times, mentions of Trump across the internet were more than double the number of Clinton mentions, and Trump was consistently a top-mentioned name across the Chartbeat network.



    Clinton Catching Up

    We’ve pulled some new data and over the last few months, and it seems Clinton has been catching up. The number of mentions of Trump or Clinton are now significantly closer in range, with the exception of a few major spikes on September 26 (the first Presidential debate) and October 8 to 11 (the release of the lewd Trump and Billy Bush video and second Presidential debate).

    To give some context to these numbers, we pulled the number of Brexit mentions during its peak back in July — this is likely the best benchmark of a large similar story. Trump and Clinton mentions are similarly large topics; however the length of time they’ve sustained newsworthiness and their incredibly high peaks dwarf Brexit.



    Engagement with U.S. Presidential Campaign Coverage

    That’s sheer mentions — how many times journalists are writing Trump or Clinton. But what about consumption of these articles? Are people actually reading them or are publishers writing into a void?

    Well, when we look at engaged time on articles mentioning Trump vs. articles mentioning Clinton, we see engagement even out. People are spending about the same amount of time actively consuming articles about Clinton as Trump. So it appears journalists’ work is not simply being dropped into an internet black hole, never to be consumed by the human eye. What’s being written is actually being read in equal measure.

    Stories about the two candidates are read more, in fact, than like-topics such as Brexit. In short, Brexit and Trump/Clinton stories on average have a much-higher engaged time than a typical story in our network, and Trump/Clinton stories consistently have a slightly higher engaged time than Brexit stories.



    Will this week of Clinton email news change things or could this shift in coverage from Trump to an even Clinton-Trump number of mentions and engagement be another indicator that further solidifies an impending Clinton win?

    Jeiran Jahani is a research data scientist at Chartbeat.

    Tagged: 2016 election chartbeat donald trump engagement metrics hillary clinton media metrics

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