National newspapers see boon from attacking Trump; locals not so much

It turns out that attracting the ire of President Donald J. Trump pays off if you’re the New York Times, but not so much if you’re the Dallas Morning News.

That’s the conclusion of an AdAge analysis of stock prices and subscriber trends since the 2016 election for daily print publications. According to AdAge, the share price for the New York Times Company is up 57 percent since November 2016. Online subscriptions were also up 19 percent early in 2017.

“Scrutinizing the president turns out to be good business, at least for top national papers like the Times and the Washington Post. A different story is playing out for local publications, which are still suffering through the industry’s long decline and need to retain subscribers who are sympathetic to Trump.”

While the print media has struggled for nearly two decades to find its footing in a digital world, publications outside of the liberal East coast have not seen the same fruits from aggressively covering the president. To a large degree, local publications serve moderate and conservative audiences who don’t crave the constant attacks on the president that drum up liberal readership in New York and Washington.

“When the Dallas Morning News published stories about James Comey’s congressional testimony last month, some readers were irate. They didn’t think the story deserved attention, arguing that the former FBI director couldn’t be trusted.

“‘There were a few protests and cancellations over that,’ said [Mike Wilson, editor of the Dallas Morning News]. The paper also lost subscribers after endorsing Hillary Clinton for president last fall.”

Tailoring content to their audience encourages local newspapers to seek a more balanced approach to their coverage, and to lean into their strengths on local issues.

AdAge’s analysis helps us better understand why large, established publications like the New York Times and Washington Post continue to cover stories that normally wouldn’t be fit for print: they’re printing money.

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