News orgs covering what was happening on the day, the public outcry and the President’s response all successfully connected with readers, according to Kaleida’s August 2017 Attention Index.
As we often see in our data when a major event takes over the news agenda CNN led on the day of the alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, August 12, 2017. They earned 422,750 engagements for their story on the Torch-bearing white nationalists marching the night before the rally.
But it was HuffPost and The New York Times who were able to contextualize the news in ways that really resonated with people on Facebook. The collection of material published by these two sources outpaced everyone else in the market.
HuffPost’s highest performer was an article with a long stream of photos and video of the day’s events: “Look At What’s Happening In America In 2017 — The Charlottesville rally is just another example of the deep-rooted, bone-chilling hatred in this country.”
It was featured on their home page all day Sunday, and it was promoted on their Facebook page where they have 9M followers saying, “If you’re thinking, ‘It’s not that bad,’ then you’re not paying attention.”
They published 3 of the top 5 most popular stories about Charlottesville, including coverage of responses to the events by former President Obama and the mother of Heather Heyer who was killed at the rally.
The New York Times had 3 of the top 10 most popular stories. The first was an article published prior to the rally on Friday the 12th:
“A month after a Ku Klux Klan rally here ended with the police using tear gas on protesters, Charlottesville is bracing for a weekend of white nationalist demonstrations and counterprotests, and suddenly this tranquil college town feels like a city under siege.”
The second-largest article for NYT was the news coverage of the day’s events.
The largest story for them which earned 391,278 engagements on Facebook was an article about Trump’s surprising remarks criticizing the protestors and his now famous quote: “I think there is blame on both sides.”
Fox News made the top 10 for it story on ESPN’s decision to pull one of its college football announcers from broadcasting the University of Virginia game that week because his name is Robert Lee.
One interesting insight worth considering is how HuffPost clocks significantly higher commenting volume compared to all the others. Most publishers in the top 10 see about 60% of their total Facebook engagements attributed to commenting. HuffPost often sees well over 80% of their Facebook engagements from commenting.
While most of the others see similar patterns for reactions and URL sharing, around 25% and 10% respectively, Fox News does stand out for considerably higher reactions to their ESPN story. They earned over 40% of their Facebook engagements from reactions.