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Right-Wing Websites in Decline: Breitbart's the Biggest Loser

The Righting is an interesting website. It aggregates headlines from right-wing websites, but does so for the benefit of left-leaning readers. Basically, the idea is "here's the most outlandish stuff the right-wingers are talking about today."

Yesterday, the site published a rundown of the traffic to various sites in January 2020 vs. January 2024, and for anyone whose living depends on traffic to right-wing sites not named Fox, it's pretty grim. Here are the top fifteen right-wing sites, ranked by number of unique visitors in Jan. 2020:

Site UV, Jan. 2020 UV, Jan. 2024 Change
Fox 111.6M 85M -24%
Washington Examiner 13.8M 4.6M -66%
Washington Times 11.1M 2M -82%
The Blaze 7.1M 2.8M -60%
National Review 7M 2M -72%
Western Journal 6.5M 1.6M -76%
Breitbart 6.3M 0.8M -87%
Daily Caller 5.4M 2.2M -59%
Daily Wire 4.6M 1.2M -73%
Newsmax 3.2M 4.4M +37%
Townhall 2.4M 0.3M -87%
Twitchy 1.9M <0.2M N/A
PJ Media 1.8M <0.2M N/A
Gateway Pundit 1.8M 0.8M -54%
Washington Free Beacon 1.7M 0.2M -87%

Traffic levels for Twitchy and PJ Media have fallen to a level so low they are not measurable by the tracker (Comscore) that The Righting is using.

Meanwhile, for purposes of comparison, here are the numbers for a few notable non-right-wing sites:

Site UV, Jan. 2020 UV, Jan. 2024 Change
CNN 141M 112.8M -20%
New York Times 103.7M 81.2M -22%
Washington Post 87.9M 48.6M -45%

Poor Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. If this continues, how will he make ends meet?

People's consumption habits are changing, such that even those folks who stay on top of the news are doing so in different ways, in many cases. One source of competition to big-time media websites is podcasts, and another is blogging platforms like Substack and beehiiv. Quite a few folks who used to be reporters for the big media players have now struck out on their own and have taken a chunk of their audience with them. That list includes Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald.

But why have the right-wing sites, on the whole, been hit much harder than the others? The biggest answer to that question is a single word: Facebook. That site made some changes to how it handles news, including downplaying news-oriented content in favor of other content (like pictures of your high school friend's summer vacation). The smaller sites were/are MUCH more dependent on Facebook traffic than the big sites, and the right-wing sites were/are MUCH more dependent than non-right-wing sites. And so the right-wing sites, especially the more extreme ones (ahem, Breitbart) were hit hard by the change.

It is impossible to say if this will have an impact in 2024, since the two likely presidential candidates are so well known. That said, the main impact of social media is not to change people's minds, but instead to motivate those whose minds are already made up to actually get themselves to the polls. In 2020, and in 2016 in particular, Donald Trump was much more a beneficiary of that dynamic than his Democratic rivals. So, he would be the one to be harmed in 2024, should there be an effect here. (Z)

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