Why mainstream media should be thanking Trump

President Donald Trump signs three executive actions in the Oval Office
Pete Marovich | Pool | Getty Images

Not a day has gone by since entering the White House where President Donald Trump has not featured front and centre in the press. However, for this, the new President has been far from grateful, accusing the mainstream media of launching unfair - and fake - attacks on him.

Perhaps, instead, it should be the media who is grateful to him.

According to Paul Quigley, chief executive of content analytics firm NewsWhip, Trump has been a gift to the media – and seemingly one that doesn't stop giving.

Earlier this month, the publisher of the New York Times reported a 276,000 uptick in net digital news subscriptions in the fourth quarter of 2016, thought to have been largely buoyed by Trump's election and the best quarter since it launched its pay model in 2011.

"It's really a gift that Donald Trump has given the New York Times, has given a lot of print media, who are now seeing a huge uptake in subscriptions ever since the election and in the run-up to the election."

Trump, social media and the election

Speaking to CNBC Wednesday, Quigley said a growing distrust of mainstream media among some subsections of society has also been countered by a renewed trust in the authority of established players.

"It's emerged that there's big groups of people out there who don't trust what we call mainstream media. On the other hand, the media's seen a huge uptick in trust as well, as we can see with subscriptions."

A recent survey by Pew Research Center pointed to the increasing number of U.S. citizens who consider social media as a news outlet in its own right.

This is part of the on-going role of social media in the distribution of news, says Quigley. While not a news creator, he describes it as a "distribution eco-system" inviting political discussion.

"There's a big change which is that the people who were formerly the audience are now the people who are sharing content and passing it on, and they're deciding how far it will go. It used to be that media companies had complete control of their distribution, through print, through TV, but now in digital it's the audience who will decide how far a story will travel."

NewsWhip data indicates engagement with US political content on Facebook was up from 220 million interactions in November 2015 to 356 million in November 2016, marking a shift away from cat videos and towards politics as social media talking points, says Quigley.

President Trump himself was a winner from this shift, however, despite his critique of media coverage.

Social media engagement on Trump-related news stories was over double that on Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to NewsWhip

"In any given month of 2016, Trump was getting probably about twice as much engagement as Hillary Clinton. Trump content was like a lightning rod: people were sharing and talking about him a whole lot more."

NewsWhip's analytics system enables users to gauge which stories are receiving the most engagement on social media, as well as those that are set to gain traction in the near future.

This will be important for media outlets looking to distinguish between legitimate news and growing breed of 'fake news'.

It can alert journalists about where to "stick a pin in" and fact-check he said.

But "deciding what's fake and what's real news is something that still needs human interlude to make that final call," he added.

Quigley's comments follow those also made by Jan Halper-Hayes, former worldwide vice-president for Republicans Overseas to CNBC Wednesday, who reiterated criticisms that the press take Trump "literally and not seriously."

Media takes Trump literally, but not seriously: Republican commentator

"I don't think they're doing good enough thinking. They're not connecting the dots."

NewsWhip has just announced Series A funding round of $6.8 million, led by Tribal Ventures and supported by the Associated Press, which will be used to grow the company's teams in Dublin and New York.