As election results came in last Tuesday night, ProPublica started seeing a big increase in donations. In the first days after Donald Trump was elected, ProPublica’s donations were “running at about 10 times the rate that we’re used to,” said president Richard Tofel.
Last Thursday, ProPublica sent out a request for donations. Then, on Sunday night, John Oliver directed his viewers to donate to ProPublica and subscribe to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) November 14, 2016
“The Oliver show took it to yet another level,” Tofel said.
As a result of Trump’s unexpected election, news organizations have reported subscription growth as readers respond to Trump’s threats against the independent press and First Amendment.
Alex Jones claims Trump called to congratulate him; Sean Hannity endorses call to deny credentials to NYT; WashPo; CNN. Just another day.
— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 14, 2016
Now that you've subscribed to WP and NYT, consider your local media. Their work often affects your daily life even more than national news.
— Nicole Dungca (@ndungca) November 14, 2016
The New York Times, in a Twitter argument with the president-elect on Sunday, said that since Election Day it has gotten four times as many print and digital subscriptions than it usually does. A Times spokeswoman declined to elaborate further.
— NYTCo Communications (@NYTimesComm) November 13, 2016
Media Twitter has also been ablaze with recommendations that users subscribe to The Washington Post, which stood out during the election for its aggressive coverage of Trump.
The Post, in a Bezosian statement, wouldn’t say whether subscriptions were up since the election, only saying that the paper has seen a “steady increase in subscriptions across the course of this year.”
— Lydia Polgreen (@lpolgreen) November 13, 2016
At The Atlantic, the rate of new post-election subscriptions is up 160 percent, while the percentage of visitors to The Atlantic’s website who purchased a subscription has also doubled since the election. The magazine’s newsstand sales also increased 14 percent this year due to interest in its political coverage.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, meanwhile, reported last week that, on the day after the election, Mother Jones received ten times as many donations as it does on a normal day, according to the magazine’s editor in chief, Clara Jeffery. Mother Jones had also put out a solicitation for donations, but Jeffery said donations were three times higher than normal even before the appeal.
The Guardian is using Trump's win to solicit memberships: "Never has the world needed independent journalism more." pic.twitter.com/tjtGEj0OOu
— Joseph Lichterman (@ylichterman) November 9, 2016
The paper said it “saw a significant rise in membership in the wake of the election result, with the highest volume of member sign-ups in a single day to date on Wednesday November 9 — 25 times higher than on an average day.”
Despite the current interest in supporting news, ProPublica’s Tofel said it’s unclear whether the increased levels of donations will be sustained. Many of ProPublica’s donations come in around the holidays at the end of the year, and Tofel isn’t sure how the surge in donations now will affect that.
Last year, though, ProPublica brought in about $300,000 in online donations, and around $200,000 in unsolicited donations via check. Tofel said the site is on track to surpass those totals this year.
“It was clear before the election, but it’s now clear that we will be way, way beyond that by the end of the year this year,” Tofel said.