NPR rides Facebook call to trade record

NPR Headquarters in Washington, DC. Photo by Stephen Voss /NPR

Yesterday, NPR reported a vast ratings increase opposite a board: radio, podcasts, and a website all saw a vital burst in assembly this year. NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn attributes this to a country’s “appetite for significant reporting” and NPR’s reputation. On a digital side, one of NPR’s biggest successes this year was a fact-checking page during a initial presidential debate.

The fact-checking page garnered roughly 10 million page views total, NPR reports, and discuss night and a day following done for NPR’s dual best trade days ever. The page displayed a live twin of a debate, with reporters’ annotations rolling in on tip of it. While NPR had prepared for a page to be popular, a volume of trade it gathering was unprecedented, and astounded many NPR staffers.

Why did it perform so well? Building a assembly forward of time was certainly one vital cause contributing to a page’s performance. NPR spent many months before a debates building a repute as a source for fact-checking, Washington Editor Beth Donovan and NPR News Digital Editor Amita Kelly told me. They did exam runs of a fact-checking routine during a RNC and DNC speeches to build their muscles and labour a assessment approach.

But this isn’t a whole story. Looking into a analytics, according to Chartbeat information and reliable by NPR, Facebook was a vital motorist of trade for a page, yet it also did good on search. On a night of a discuss alone, Facebook sent over 2 million page views to a page. Below is a striking of notation by notation information from Chartbeat on a NPR fact-checking page during a initial debate. 




There are several tiny spikes in a data: during 9:27 pm, when Hillary Clinton suggested fact-checking, there was a spike in search. At 9:57 pm, when Donald Trump spoke about President Obama’s birth certificate, there was a spike on Facebook and Google-driven traffic. But a largest rise comes only after a discuss ended, around 10:30 pm.

I asked Daniel Frohlich, a metrics researcher during NPR, either this was since a sold post went viral during a finish of a debate. As distant as a NPR analytics group can tell, he said, Facebook trade did not come from any sold post going viral. Nor did they spend income compelling Facebook posts for a initial debate. About half of Facebook trade came from posts on a 90 NPR pages that common it, and half came from organic pity by readers.

This sold page has nothing of a hallmarks of what Facebook customarily favors; it wasn’t an present essay or a livestream. As a Tow Center for Digital Journalism’s Research Director Claire Wardle noted, Facebook is not famous for pulling out live content. Frohlich concurred; posting during a sold time doesn’t meant that a post will find readers. It could be hours or even days before a post takes off, he said. 

Ultimately, a fact that Facebook trade peaked during a finish of a discuss wasn’t formed on a preference done by NPR, or some viral fluke, though rather dynamic by Facebook’s algorithm. As publisher, NPR had no control over how many people saw a post, and how or because a page did so good on Facebook stays something of a mystery.

This page is being hailed by NPR as one large reason because a Web trade is adult this year. Facebook had a lot to do with that—its algorithm bearing one couple or another affects a predestine of publishers.

Thanks to Sonya Song and a Chartbeat group for their assistance with this piece. 

A prior chronicle of this square wrongly identified a fact-checking page as a ratings success, rather than a Web trade success. 

Nausicaa Renner is an associate editor during a Columbia Journalism Review and a Tow Center for Digital Journalism. She tweets during @nausjcaa.