May 9, 2011

Navigating News Online

Drudge Report: Small Operation, Large Influence

Before Google or Facebook, an early major driver of Internet traffic was the Drudge Report. The site, founded by Matt Drudge, first gained national recognition during the Clinton presidency for posting insider information about the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Two decades later, while Drudge is still a small scale operation, it remains, according to the data, an influential driver of traffic to top news sites. The Drudge Report ranked as a driver of traffic to all but six of the top sites studied. And, more striking, it ranked second or third in more than half (12), outpacing Facebook.  

In some cases, Drudgereport.com is an extremely important traffic driver. While Facebook never drove more than 8% of traffic to any one site, for instance, Drudgereport.com provided more than 30% of traffic to mailonline.co.uk (the British newspaper site the Daily Mail), 19% of the traffic to the NYPost.com, 15% to Washingtonpost.com and 11% to Boston.com and FoxNews.com.

In other words, the Drudge Report’s influence cuts across both traditional organizations such as ABC News to more tabloid style outlets such as the New York Post. What’s more, Drudge Report drove more links than Facebook or Twitter on all the sites to which it drove traffic.

Cite this publication: Kenneth Olmstead, Amy Mitchell and Tom Rosenstiel. “Navigating News Online.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (May 9, 2011) http://www.journalism.org/2011/05/09/navigating-news-online/, accessed on July 23, 2014.