Every time the president-elect has opened his mouth — or “twittered” his thumbs — the story has gone viral in every sense of the word.
From the day Donald Trump announced his presidency on June 16, 2015, it’s been a roller coaster.
The billionaire reality TV star turned president’s campaign-to-inauguration process has been a series of ups and downs incomparable to anything in recent memory.
Another series of ups and downs have come from the stock graphs of some of the nation’s leading media companies.
What if I told you that both processes were symbiotic?
Everyone is so quick to point out the billions of dollars in free advertising that Trump got, but the flip side of that coin is the billions of dollars in profits that the media companies received.
According to Portland-based analytics firm mediaQuant, Trump received around $5 billion in free media coverage over the course of his campaign.
That’s more than twice the coverage that Clinton received.
Why would the same media groups that spent so much time down-talking Trump give him so much free publicity? He was earning them millions of new views and subscriptions.
After all, the large media corporations don’t really care who wins the presidency, as long as they’re still making money — and they did make money. For businesses, it’s always about the bottom line.
Constant campaign coverage and turning every Trump tweet into a headline has made a significant difference in the profit margins of media companies across the country. A simple look at the stock prices of the largest media companies shows a constant rise in the last year, especially in the time since the election.
The New York Times Company has seen its stock increase 25.93 percent since Nov. 3, 2016.
In the same time frame, Gannett Company, the parent company of USA Today, has watched its stocks rise 30.39 percent.
Gannett Company had a rough year previous to the election date. Their stock prices dropped over 50 percent in the nine months leading up to the election.
As parent company for The Washington Post, The Graham Holdings Company’s stocks rose 22.84 percent in the past year.
The success of these media companies that are centered on print media is easier to trace back to Trump’s coverage, since it has been the focal point of each respective company in the time frame.
It’s harder to calculate the exact effects on multimedia companies that use broadcast coverage of the election: Fox News, CNN, NBC News, etc. While the parent companies of each news organization have certainly seen success, it’s difficult to tell if a rise in stock prices is due specifically to election coverage.
Time Warner, grandparent company for CNN, saw stock increases of about 35 percent over the past year. Comcast, with NBC as a major subsidiary, also saw a 35 percent increase in stock. Stocks for 21st Century Fox, which sees the profits of Fox News, increased 15 percent during the year.
Mass media companies traded in free publicity for profit. On the surface, they may seem to be primarily denouncing Trump; however, in devoting so much of their coverage to him, they gave him the boost he needed to win the election.
In return, Trump’s publicity brought in constant online hits and television views. We can only hope that all the ratings and reviews were worth it.
For Trump and the media companies, the exchange was a win-win. For America, it was a solid L.