Ferguson still dominates Cable News Twitter — but for how long?

Cable News Trending Topics for 2014-08-20

Ferguson continues to dominate Cable News Twitter, which surprised me a bit, as I expected news of ISIS to at least get close to the top.  Still, interest in Ferguson has started to wane in the past few days, as this chart shows:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This is total mentions on Twitter, not just cable news related mentions, but it shows how the de-escalation on the streets diminishes the conversation on Twitter as well.  The last time Ferguson was not the dominate topic was on the 16th.  We can see that, without any new flare-ups, we should soon drop back to a similar level of Ferguson mentions; that will provide a low enough hurdle that other topics may move to the forefront.

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Hayes and Hannity win Cable News Twitter on Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chris Hayes came out on top Wednesday with the most mentions throughout the day, while Sean Hannity had the best hour.  The best reach was had by Anderson Cooper, which indicates that even though he had about 60% of the daily mentions of Chris Hayes, his mentions were likely seen by more people.

Regardless, a good day (mention-wise) by all…

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As Ferguson quiets, other networks catch up to Hayes: Cable News Twitter Ratings for Tuesday, August 19, 2014

With events last night in Ferguson calmer, there’s been a real change in the Twitter ratings for Tuesday.  Monday, Chris Hayes got over 14K mentions in one hour; Tuesday, he didn’t make it over 2K in an hour.  Monday, Chris had over 43K mentions in total; Tuesday, he go about half that.

As a result, the winners for Tuesday were The Kelly File, with 4K mentions in an hour, and the Tapper and Lemon team on CNN with about 34K mentions throughout the day.  Still, it was a good day overall for all news programs, and mentions ran high across the board.

For good measure I counted tweets that mention Eric Bolling as being for The O’Reilly Factor yesterday (and revised Monday’s numbers as well), thinking there might have been a huge spike because of Mr. Bolling’s immense popularity on social media.  Alas, that did not happen.

Technical note:

Starting today, I am including additional statistics in the per show report, and have abbreviated the column titles a bit to make things fit.  As before, I am giving the total number of mentions during the broadcast hour (Twts Hour) and throughout the day (Twts Day).  And I am still giving the approximate breakdown of male vs. female mentions (for the day, not for the hour).  In addition, there are three new columns of data.  The first two are the number of unique “tweeters” (UT) during the hour and day: these are the number of people who have sent tweets mentioning the show, regardless of how many tweets they send.  It’s a breadth vs. depth comparison with the total number of tweets.

Another new metric is “reach”, which is a very squishy number that attempts to measure how many “impressions” the mentions might have.  It’s squishy, because it doesn’t actually measure the impressions, just the possibility of impressions.  If you view the number not as anything other that a relative comparison, it makes more sense, I believe. There is more description of this metric in the footnotes.

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Chris Hayes Sends Shockwaves Through The Internet: Cable News Twitter Ratings for Monday, August 18, 2014

Schedules on Monday night were again in disarray as networks followed events in Ferguson.  Fox News had Shepard Smith on the “holodeck”.  CNN had Jake Tapper and Don Lemon live on the ground.  And MSNBC, while largely keeping to its schedule, had Chris Hayes and Craig Melvin reporting throughout the evening.

Because of this, I would say you should look more at the daily mentions than the hourly, as people were not always in their normal slot.  With that in mind, here’s some key observations:

  • Holy moly, did Chris Hayes get a lot of mentions.  He personally got talked about more than MSNBC as a whole does on slow days.  Part of that is that he got a late start on Sunday (as things heated up when the curfew went into effect), but, still, that’s a lot of mentions…
  • Jake Tapper and Don Lemon each individually  broke through the 10K mark. (Don Lemon doesn’t normally have a show on Mondays, so I had to run his count separately from the daily analysis) I have now updated “CNN Tonight” to include the two as hosts.
  • Did I mention how high Chris Hayes’ mentions were?

A final observation: Ferguson is an opportunity for some folks besides the hosts to shine as actual on the air reporters for the networks. And this has pointed out something important: Cable News has a real journalism problem.

Especially you, MSNBC.  Sit down with me for a moment…

Each of your shows has a cult-of-stardom anchor, and it seems like the creatives below the anchor are mostly given miss-the-mark titles like “digital writer” and “producer”.  Yet they are, in fact, serious journalists and editors and deserve to be called so1.

Want to know what amazing reporting looks like? We just saw a glimpse of it last night when MSNBC producer/reporter Erin Delmore was streaming video from her phone in order to go where a camera crew couldn’t go. That was real, gritty, leading edge, and technically savvy journalism. Do you think Chris Matthews can stream video from his phone?

I know you have a stable of contributors, and I respect them all.  They are there to interpret the news, providing opinion and commentary.  But they are not, primarily, reporters. You have guys like Trymaine Lee who have a Pulitzer — how often do we see him? Not enough.

It’s no secret that the viewers of the networks all skew older, with the right tail far out of the demo. Getting more — and younger — faces on air and giving them recognition would go a long ways towards fixing that. It’s not about just dropping a younger body into the same old role (hi, Ronan), it’s about allowing people with differing ways of relating to people, journalism and, yes, technology to inform the delivery of the news.

Try it.  Your advertisers will love you.  Your audience too.

Thanks for listening, MSNBC. :-)


1: I’m sure that the titles are the tip of the iceberg on deeper issues.  I worked for a media company in the 80s, and the union rules were perplexing.  Tough, solve the issues, it’s hurting your bottom line.

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