The most-read stories since Trump’s election win might surprise you

November 7, 2017

Donald Trump has dominated headlines in the year since he shocked nearly every political analyst and claimed victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. But how did the glut of headlines translate into pageviews?

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CJR asked several news outlets to share their 10 best-performing articles between November of 2016 and October of this year. We received responses from ABC News, Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, Harper’s Magazine, the Houston Chronicle, and NPR. Surprisingly, Trump was mostly absent from these lists. Although our findings represent a small portion of the news industry, they suggest other major news events have more pull than White House drama.

We noticed three trends:

  1. Election Day 2016 was huge for traffic. Despite the major news events from the past year, many publishers saw some of their best traffic on Election Day. NPR, CNN, the LA Times, and ABC News all had an Election Day post on their lists. The most-read posts provided live updates.
  2.  Las Vegas was a big story. Stories about victims and the shooter responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history made several lists. Readers flocked to ABC, the LA Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, and the Houston Chronicle for coverage of the tragedy.
  3. Trump did not dominate. Though it felt at moments that Trump was taking up all the media oxygen, audiences actually spent more time digesting information on major storiesincluding national disasters and mass shootingswith few ties to Trump. Exceptions were the top-10s for Fox News and NPR, which were particularly Trump-heavy.

Without further ado, here are the lists:

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  1. Hurricane Irma ‘is going to devastate the United States’ FEMA chief says
  2. Las Vegas shooting death toll rises to 58 no apparent connection to terror
  3. Hurricane Irma now heading toward Tampa as it tears through Florida
  4. Hurricane Irma strengthens to Category 5 as 2nd storm forms behind it
  5. Hurricane Harvey strengthens to Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds
  6. Irma death toll rises as power restored to over 2 million
  7. Irma causes at least 3 deaths in Caribbean as Florida Georgia SC brace for storm
  8. What we know about Las Vegas suspect Stephen Paddock
  9. Harvey: ‘Unprecedented’ flooding ‘beyond anything experienced’ inundates Houston area
  10. Latest Presidential Election Results by State


FOX (Courtesy of Adobe Analytics)

  1. US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan after Green Beret killed
  2. List of Trump’s executive orders
  3. Susan Rice requested to unmask names of Trump transition officials, sources say
  4. Hurricane Irma’s storm path: What you should know
  5. Potential ‘smoking gun’ showing Obama administration spied on Trump team, source says
  6. Hero homeowner holds escaped Georgia inmates at gunpoint until arrests
  7. Russian warship steams toward US destroyers that launched Syria strikes
  8. Comey hearing: Ex-FBI director talks Trump, Russia investigation — live blog
  9. Ex-Clinton volunteer slammed, loses job, after swipe at widow of fallen SEAL
  10. Andrew Napolitano: Trump has committed the most revolutionary act I’ve seen in 45 years


LA Times

  1.       Our Dishonest President
  2.       ‘I know they are going to die.’ This foster father takes in only terminally ill children
  3.       Carrie Fisher is spending Christmas in intensive care, but is in stable condition, mom Debbie Reynolds says
  4.       Election Day 2016 updates: Trump defeats Clinton to become next president of U.S.
  5.       United passenger threatened with handcuffs to make room for ‘higher-priority’ traveler
  6.       California could be hit by an 8.2 mega-earthquake, and it would be catastrophic
  7.       Powerful storm causes widespread flooding in Northern California, evacuations in Sonoma County and neighboring Nevada
  8.       Grammys 2017: Complete list of winners and nominees
  9.       More than 50 dead and 400 injured in shooting on Las Vegas Strip; police say lone suspect is dead
  10.   Cocaine, guns and fury: 1 dead, 2 critically injured in Azusa shooting; gunman found dead


BuzzFeed News

  1. These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia
  2. R. Kelly Is Holding Women Against Their Will In A “Cult,” Parents Told Police
  3. 21 Photos That Show Just How Bad The Flooding In Houston Really Is
  4. These Are The Victims Of The Las Vegas Shooting
  5. Debbie Reynolds Dies One Day After Daughter Carrie Fisher
  6. The Military’s Nude Photo Scandal Goes Well Beyond Just The Marines
  7. This Teen Cheerleader Was Forced To Do The Splits And Now Police Are Investigating
  8. These Maps Show Where Irma’s Storm Surge May Hit Hardest
  9. Photos Show The Terrifying Aftermath Of The Las Vegas Mass Shooting
  10. Dakota Access Pipeline Will Be Rerouted In A Victory For Standing Rock Tribe

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  1. General Election Results
  2. Weapons cache found at Las Vegas shooter’s home
  3. Irma’s wrath: Live Updates
  4. Something went ‘incredibly wrong’ with Las Vegas gunman, brother says
  5. Irma’s wrath: Live Updates
  6. What we know about the Las Vegas Shooter
  7. Amid Harvey rescues, Houston officer’s body recovered
  8. Inauguration Live Coverage
  9. Ohio State University: Attacker killed, 11 hospitalized after campus attack
  10. Fort Lauderdale airport suspect ‘came here specifically’ to attack, FBI says


Houston Chronicle

  1. Houston residents share Hurricane Harvey photos on social media
  2. Maps show what Harvey’s impact would look like in other U.S. states
  3. Massive Houston sex sting, prostitution bust leads to 250+ arrests
  4. Death toll reportedly reaches 5 as Harvey spawns massive flooding in Houston area
  5. Heartbreaking photos show terrified, injured crowd at Las Vegas shooting
  6. Drone photos show Harvey’s impact on Houston
  7. Dog carrying bag of food after Hurricane Harvey becomes viral hero
  8. These are the roads that are closed in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey
  9. HPD prostitution sting nets Houston cop among 139 clients
  10. The real-life faces of ‘Narcos’


Harper’s Magazine

  1. Public Enemy
  2. Getting In and Out
  3. The Emigrants
  4. Who Goes Nazi?
  5. The Paranoid Style in American Politics.
  6. The Reichstag Fire Next Time
  7. Legalize It All
  8. The Master of the Murder Castle
  9. The Rise of the Valkyries
  10.  Eat, Memory



  1.       Here is what Donald Trump wants to do in his first 100 days
  2.       Shades of 2000? Clinton surpasses Trump in popular vote tally
  3.       Fact check: Donald Trump’s first 100 days action plan
  4.       Who benefits from Donald trump’s tax plan?
  5.       Live Coverage: Election Night 2016 
  6.       No jail time for 19-year-old in Idaho coat-hanger assault case
  7.       In a surprise send-off, Obama awards Biden presidential medal of freedom
  8.       If raw fruits or veggies give you a tingly mouth, it’s a real syndrome
  9.       Flattening the ‘mommy tummy’ with 1 exercise, 10 minutes a day
  10.   Live coverage: Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration

Image via Pixabay

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Justin Ray is an audience editor at the Los Angeles Times. Follow him on Twitter @jray05.