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The 2024 State of the Media Report

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The 2020 State of the Election Part III

"I voted" sticker, American flag, Capital building

The latest headlines impacting the presidential election

As we saw in 2016, eye-opening news is bound to surface during an election. When major stories trend, Cision will objectively monitor and analyze the coverage to better understand how earned media is influencing the conversation. We are committed to providing a nonpartisan view into the election coverage.  

In the past two weeks, two controversial stories dominated the election headlines. 

First there was a September 3rd story in The Atlantic, which was confirmed by the Associated Press, CNN and Fox News, that claimed President Donald Trump called Americans who died in war "losers" and "suckers". Less than a week later, The Washington Post published an article and audio recording of Trump telling journalist Bob Woodward he intentionally downplayed the severity of the novel coronavirus. 

In this week’s State of the Election, we analyze the media coverage and social engagement generated by both of these stories. The author would like to cite that during this time there was not a story about Joe Biden of the same magnitude. 

Cision 2020 U.S. Election Coverage

 In a 10-day stretch, from September 3rd to September 12th, there were 230k Trump related stories published across online news, newspapers, television, radio, and blogs. Nearly one out of four of those stories were related to The Atlantic or Washington Post articles. On September 10th, a day after The Washington Post story, a whopping 41% of Trump’s total coverage talked about Trump’s coronavirus comments. Comparatively, Biden received 62% less coverage than Trump during this time, and on September 10th there was more coverage related to the Trump-Woodward tape than Biden’s total coverage. But by-and-large, Trump continues to receive the lion’s share of the coverage.  

The Atlantic Story 

In terms of media coverage, The Atlantic story was the less covered. Though, it still generated significant views and engagement.  

Cision 2020 U.S. Election Coverage

 In the same 10-day period, there was an average of 2,092 daily stories and nearly 2M social shares. The 9k+ online news articles that Cision captured resulted in 40.9 million views, which is about 29.7% of the total number of people who voted in 2016. 

Obviously, media publications have political affinities. To better illustrate how left and right-leaning publications covered these stories, I segmented the mentions based on apparent political biases. 

Broken down by left and right-leaning media – right-leaning outlets published 127 more stories; however, left-leaning publications drove significantly more views and engagement. Left-Leaning media coverage generated 2.1x more social share and 6.7x more views – 18.8M compared to 2.8M.  

Bob Woodward’s Book  

The Washington Post story about Bob Woodward’s new book garnered more coverage in four-days than The Atlantic’s piece generated in 10 days. From September 9th to September 12th, nearly 30.2k stories were published – an average of 7,553 per day. The coverage also resulted in nearly 2M social shares and collected more than 28M online views. 

Cision 2020 U.S. Election Coverage

 Similar to The Atlantic story, there was more right-leaning coverage, but the left-leaning content was more impactful. Of the 1.3M Facebook shares, 92% or 1.2M was left-leaning content. And left-leaning content was shared more across Twitter and Reddit. Right-leaning content only received 35.5k total shares across Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. When it comes to people actually reading the content – similar trends. Left-leaning content received 15.3M views compared to 2.4M right-leaning views. 

While most of the coverage appears negative here for Trump, it certainly became old news very quickly. Both stories had a one to two-day peek and quickly lost share of voice in the national media. We will continue to share insights on major stories that impact either campaign.  

In addition to analyzing election coverage, we will highlight presidential election focused press releases distributed by Cision/PR Newswire from the past week: 

Cision is politically unaffiliated and does not endorse any political parties, platforms, campaigns or candidates. If you have questions, reach out to us