Media fragmentation: NYT can’t reach Trump voters – Breitbart News won’t become a new NYT
Morning Brief: A Trump administration gag order on government agency communications has led to new Twitter accounts being created, supposedly from agency staffers – but these new accounts are not verified, and some tweets appear to have been written overseas
The journalism world continues to be obsessed with the concept that they can reach white, male, rural readers if they simply cover them more often. Reach out, and suddenly the man in Ida Grove, Iowa will start their digital subscription to The New York Times. Good luck with that.
The NYT’s print circulation on any given weekday is between just under 600K and just over 700K (Friday). When you add in its digital subscribers, the NYT has just over 2 million readers (and it likely growing a bit). That’s very impressive in the newspaper world. Of course, that is the world of the past when you are talking about real readership these days. And it is true that the NYT is also doing very well in that area, too. Depending on your source, the NYT is either the #2 website, or still in the top ten. No matter, it has impressive readership. But it is still not reaching the audience that would prefer to believe that Donald J. Trump inauguration was the largest attended in history.
As a Pew Research Center survey pointed out last week, the media divide in the US is enormous.
It is equally absurd to think, however, that adding a few staffers to Breitbart News will make it the go-to source for news for America’s liberals.
Just what really is the “mainstream” media is something that appears to be confusing journalists. Is Breitbart not mainstream, even though it recorded 31 million users in July and 192 million page views? That seems pretty damn mainstream to me.
PPP’s new poll on the electorate has been interpreted as bad news for the new president, with his approval rating at around 44 percent. But this is pretty much where Trump has always been polling, so why hasn’t his numbers fallen even further after all the craziness about crowd sizes and the like? Because his supporters, by and large, are getting their news from sources other than what most journalists call the mainstream media. They, in fact, believe that his crowd size was a record for any president. It’s hard to convince readers when you aren’t reaching them.
What to do? That’s a good question. A few decades ago one would have said promotion, it’s time to get the NYT on the airwaves promoting itself. That won’t happen today, of course, and it is not as if the NYT marketing department has stopped promoting the paper and its website.
My own opinion – and it might change – is that it will take a Vietnam moment, a situation where citizens uniformly across the country are effected by something, like ending Medicare or Social Security, and they begin to stop believing some of their news sources. Sadly, it may take something approaching a catastrophe before we again see a realignment in the media
So, Breitbart News is going mainstream, right? At least, that is what The Atlantic seems to be saying. It’s BS. It’s not going mainstream, in the sense that journalists understand it, it is simply growing. Flush with more cash, it is making some hires, and just as Fox News could pick off big name journalists when it went through its growing phase, Breitbart can today attract journalists from media outlets with familiar names.
When Breitbart News starts breaking news regarding corruption in government, Republican run government, then I may begin to believe Breitbart News “has gone mainstream.” Unless, as I do, mainstream only should mean “large audience” – in that case, Breitbart News was mainstream media all through the 2016 election cycle.
The right-wing outlet founded by the late Andrew Breitbart has taken on an increased importance in the Trump era, morphing into the main pro-Trump news organ over the course of the campaign. And recent changes reflect the site’s outsize status in the new Washington; two of its writers are joining the site’s former chairman in the Trump White House, and the site has hired journalists from mainstream outlets, and is in the process of trying to hire more. Once considered fringe, the site is now approaching establishment status, just as Trump’s populist-nationalist ideology went mainstream, taking over the Republican Party and finally the White House…
…Meanwhile, Breitbart has hired John Carney from The Wall Street Journal, and announced three other new hires, as first reported in Axios on Tuesday: Kristina Wong from The Hill, Sam Chi from Real Clear Politics, and Sean Moran from Americans for Prosperity. According to a Breitbart News staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, the site is trying to recruit from Politico as well.
Add to this the fact that Breitbart is planning to expand internationally; the company has outposts in Jerusalem, Rome, and London, and is planning to add France and Germany to the mix as well as reportedly expanding in Italy—a further sign of the site’s ambitions.
One of the more controversial new edicts from the Trump administration is that government agencies should be muzzles, not allowed to release news without expressed permission from White House officials. Yesterday, TNM decided to use the word “censor” in its Morning Brief headline, in part because I knew no one else would. They would consider that going too far, which is bizarre considering that it meant a complete cutoff of communications.
Many were excited to see, however, that up sprang new Twitter accounts supposedly coming from employees at these agencies and were being very vocal about certain things that liberal journalists feel passionate about. It felt fishy to me because, after all, on Twitter who the hell knows who half the tweets really are coming from. Some journalists spend half they day arguing with Twitter users with half a dozen followers and who have just created their accounts in the past few months. Others argue with obvious bots. So, how do we know if AltUSNatParkService is really being written by a staffer of the National Park Service? We don’t. Not unless a journalist can get them to talk and confirm that it is so.
Can't wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS.
You can take our official twitter, but you'll never take our free time!
— AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer) January 25, 2017
Meanwhile, the account above is about to reach a million followers. So, you can see, there is a tremendous incentive to at least pretend you are who you say you are. This new account, keep in mind, now has three times the followers than the actual, official National Park Service Twitter account. Meanwhile, its tweets are said to be coming from New York, Edinburgh, Hong Kong (not exactly home to Yellowstone, right?).
Donald Trump’s gag order on federal science agencies is continuing to spawn a wave of anonymous Twitter accounts, each claiming to speak for a branch of the government. Over the last day, we’ve seen accounts supposedly authored by renegade members of the EPA, the Forest Service, the USDA, and even NASA. The accounts come from different corners of the government, but all claim to represent workers who are risking their livelihoods by tweeting climate change facts, details of apparent gag orders, and criticism of the Trump administration.
There’s reason to believe these accounts may be genuine. The Trump administration’s demands that EPA scientists stop releasing research to the public has not been well received in the academic community, and even prior to the restrictions imposed on government Twitter accounts, some agencies’ social media teams indicated they were no fans of the new president — who has questioned the legitimacy of climate change and frozen EPA funding…
…But none of these accounts have yet verified that they are what they claim: that they do indeed speak for real workers inside actual government agencies. The sheer number of them makes that claim hard to believe. A Twitter search for “alt epa,” for example, brings up at least six accounts that claim to represent Environmental Protection Agency workers.
Digiday has an interview with an anonymous newspaper who says that “I’m doing three beats right now.” The idea is that this is unique to “millennial” newspaper reporters.
I’ve got news for you, reporters have been complaining about covering multiple beats since newspapers first began (OK, maybe I don’t have proof of that claim, but I can tell you that it was a common complaint when I first got into the newspaper industry back in the early ’80s).
Reporter have always been told to do more. The reason is likely that things always have been changing, even before the Internet. When I worked at the Herald Examiner the complaint was that reporters were being required to write for the new sections being created, some of which were clearly advertorial sections. There was always a battle between what a reporter thought their beat was and what the editors thought it was. Editors want things covered, reporters want to cover their beats well.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that the cutbacks being made in newsrooms aren’t serious – and seriously adding new burdens on the backs of reporters. Labeling them “millennial” newspaper reporters makes it sound like young hires are complainers, I can tell you that the veteran staff complains even more.
What hasn’t happened, though, is the kind of transformation of the newsroom that would be necessary to beef up coverage while maintaining quality of reporting. This is basically what the recent NYT reports have been trying to deal with. But I think the answers will come from small metro papers that realize soon that they will need to partner with good, independent journalists and bloggers in order to cover the news to the standards they aspire to.
Meanwhile, we all are being asked to do more. Get used to it, its called employment in the news business.
By the way, this Digiday article appears part of a series of anonymous interviews with media pros complaining about their industry. Last week appeared ‘Digital industry ghettoizes itself’ – folks sure are in a foul mood these days.
“Being understaffed and having limited resources can have a direct impact on the journalism you’re able to produce. I always thought you could do good journalism anywhere, and I still do, but the places I’ve worked have been really understaffed. I could see the quality of the content we were producing decline. That was frustrating…
We have, like, one copy editor looking at more than one newspaper per shift. And that copy editor has duties outside copy editing, like laying out the pages. Mistakes get through, and that erodes the credibility of the paper. It’s one of the ironies because the newspapers are focused on growing an audience, but you’re losing that when you make mistakes. There’s that term, feeding the beast. You have to put out a print newspaper every day. I’ve seen reporters leave and companies be very slow or unable to replace them. I’m doing three beats right now. I’m barely scratching the surface on these. It’s an injustice to readers.”