How coverage of Trump’s policy for transgender people in the military compared to other big stories…

Whether performance of coverage was good or not good enough depends on if you were a subject of one of the many big stories coming out of Washington that week, too.

Everyone saw the response across the media to the announcement that transgender military personnel would no longer be permitted to serve. It was a robust response on both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. It was particularly strong given the other activity surrounding the White House that week.

Not only were news orgs covering the announcement in depth, but they were promoting the coverage heavily. And not surprisingly, readers were very actively engaged, spreading that coverage across Facebook in phenomenal numbers.

It was by all accounts a high impact news event getting traction with publishers and with readers.

Looking across the 144,000 articles Kaleida tracked in July we can see some interesting performance trends amongst the approximately 300 articles published about transgender people in the military.

Engagement volume was much higher than other coverage. The median number of engagements across all articles published in July was 31, while the median for coverage of transgender people in the military was 381.

The Washington Post, New York Times, Fox News and CNN topped the list in terms of reader response. They all published stories covering the announcement that earned well over half a million engagements on Facebook each. The Washington Post had two stories over 500,000 — the coverage of the announcement and then a follow up piece titled, “The military spends five times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troops’ medical care”.

Engagement activity was split 26% reactions (including likes, frowns, smiley faces, etc.), 66% comments, and 8% shares. This breakdown of engagement activities was normal compared to all articles in July.

This strong performance happened despite competition from several big stories that week. At the time of the announcement about transgender people in the military on the 26th of July Trump was facing criticism for changes in his staff.

He announced the resignation of Sean Spicer and his replacement Anthony Scaramucci a week before the announcement. He was two days away from replacing his Chief of Staff. And Trump was losing support from Republican senators as he publicly attacked his Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Source: Facebook

Whether or not those are coincidental strings of events it’s worth noting that the New Yorker interview with Anthony Scaramucci that ultimately led to his resignation was published on the 27th. The transgender policy was announced the day before that interview was published. Of course we all heard about it, because the Scaramucci story flew across the Internet earning 870,000 Facebook engagements for The New Yorker and big numbers for all the publishers who covered the interview, too.

The data can’t tell us if the events are related, but the timing of them and the scale of the response suggests an interesting change. Perhaps we’re seeing media orgs and readers learn how to spread attention across several big stories in parallel.

Was it the level of drama that made this possible or is there something new about the way publishing and reading habits are evolving?