Washington Post readership declines sharply now that Trump has left town

According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post is shedding readers at a rate that alarms its top executives:

The Post, like most major publications, experienced an audience surge during the Trump years, when readers flocked to stories about the controversial Republican administration. Now, the Post is facing a slump that has triggered some soul-searching at the paper, including over the need to invest more in coverage areas outside of politics, according to people familiar with the news outlet’s operations and internal documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

One document provided a stark snapshot: The site had about 66 million monthly unique visitors in October, down 28% from last year.

Several of the Post’s rivals, including the New York Times, the Journal, Vox Media and CNN, had smaller declines in that time frame, according to the document, which cited data from Comscore. Other politics-focused publications, including the Hill and Politico, had traffic declines greater than the Post’s during that period, according to the document. . . .

Traffic from nonsubscribers ha[s] fallen off 35% over two years, according to one of the documents the Journal viewed.

(Emphasis added)

The bolded portions of this excerpt indicate that (1) consumers of mainstream media sources have, to a considerable degree, lost interest in reading about politics and (2) the loss of interest is due to the fact that the MSM doesn’t have Donald Trump to kick around as much as before.

These conclusions are supported by the fact that during one stretch of 2019, nearly all of the 50 most popular articles on the Post’s home page were related to politics, whereas in the same period of 2021, just three of the top 10 pertained to politics (by the Post’s reckoning). I strongly suspect that the clear majority of those “most popular articles” back in 2019 had Trump as their focal point.

Given the new landscape, the Post is strongly considering devoting more resources to areas other than politics, according to the Journal. But that might be easier said than done.

Politics permeates every section of the Washington Post. The “Style” section — ostensibly devoted to the arts, fashion, and the like — promotes woke leftism constantly. The sports section is becoming almost as bad. Because I’m interested in sports, not wokeism, I usually finish perusing that section in about five minutes.

The local news section of the Post is probably its least left-leaning. But most of its stories relate to politics or public policy in one way or another.

Perhaps readers with antennae different than mine would disagree, but I question whether for the Washington Post there is such thing as an area other than politics. At the Post, “the personal is political” and so is everything else.

According to the Journal, a substantial portion of subscription growth at the New York Times is coming from low-cost digital offerings such as games, its cooking product, and its product-recommendation site Wirecutter. Maybe the Post could do cooking and games without injecting politics. Maybe not.

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