He has dominated the headlines since announcing he would be running for President, but what we didn’t know was just how much qualified media attention Donald Trump has received, until now. According to a New York Times study, Trump has earned nearly $2 billion worth of media attention during this 2016 Presidential campaign, which is more than the combined total of all of the former Republican candidates combined. Additionally, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center, three out of four Americans believe the media has given too much coverage to Trump.
I have been in the TV news business for 25 years, a media trainer for the past 8 years and counting, and I can tell you firsthand that I have never seen anything like this. Flip channels and watch any network-CNN, Fox, or any of the other big three and more times than not, Trump is your lead story, even if there is nothing new going on with his campaign. $2 billion dollars of free publicity? Are you kidding me?
So how and why has this happened? Over the years, when people find out what I do, many will provide unsolicited input as to their political perceptions of various news outlets, including the organizations I have worked for. “Oh, an NBC station, I see. They lean fairly left don’t you think?”, or, “You worked at a Fox station? I thought you were liberal?”. Despite my insistence that all stations and all news professional are different with different viewpoints and most resist bias or slant, my counterpoints usually fall on deaf ears. The Trump phenomenon may help illustrate my argument for the public.
Are you ready? Here it comes-it’s not about left or right. It’s about ratings and Donald Trump is a gold mine. Trump is TV gold because you never know what he will say or do. He is loud, obnoxious, in your face, and a seven-second sound-bite machine. He is built for television and that’s why he ended up on a reality TV show. Simply put, Trump spikes ratings and makes outlets money. It really is that simple.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. Maybe, but not all of that free news coverage is positive. That is true. But remember, real journalism and legitimate news organizations are not anyone’s marketing department. Positive and negative coverage is all part of the game and not everything reported will be a glowing review. But that is the case with any candidate running for office.
This simple fact cannot be denied: Donald Trump has received a disproportionate amount of media coverage. Not because he is liberal or conservative. Because in the media world, Donald Trump is a great sound-bite and his color is green.