The Hill Enjoys Another Record-Setting January
Chairman James Finkelstein credits an expanded editorial staff and "ultimate non-partisan" content with helping the outlet ride the Trump Bump.
In a time of unprecedented civic and political engagement — in the age of digital media, at least — count The Hill among those enjoying the so-called "Trump Bump."
The 23-year-old D.C. media outlet, which primarily focuses on Capitol Hill politics and policy, reached a record high of 25 million unique visitors in the U.S. in January, according to comScore's multi-platform data, a 135 percent increase over January 2016 — which, at the time, was itself a record-breaking month.
The comScore rankings, as The Hill points out, place it well ahead of Politico, the Daily Caller, and "all other independent political sites," meaning sites that aren't part of a larger media organization, like CNN or The Huffington Post.
How did The Hill do it? By playing it straight, says Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. chairman James Finkelstein.
"The Hill has always been non-partisan and our explosive growth is a testament to that approach," said Finkelstein in a statement. "We expect this growth to continue, with February on track to be another record-setting month."
Folio: followed up with Finkelstein to learn a little bit more about The Hill's recipe for digital success.
Folio: Apart from a natural increase in interest during the political cycle, what have you done differently to achieve such a dramatic jump in traffic over last year?
James Finkelstein: We have added about 25 percent more editorial staff, adding coverage, which in itself helps traffic. We have added serious opinion contributors, which has drawn serious people to the site. In the last two years, we have added the best social team as well. We have lots of policy writers, which is unusual and probably is helpful.
Folio: Where have you seen most of your traffic coming from?
Finkelstein: We have very large shares from direct, search, and social as well as links. Over two years the largest increases have been in social, but referrals have been huge in recent times.
Folio: I hear a lot of journalists say this is a uniquely complicated administration to cover for a variety of reasons. Is it ever a challenge or does it ever require extra care to maintain that non-partisanship upon which The Hill prides itself?
Finkelstein: We think we are the ultimate non-partisan site. We even try to balance contributor pieces. So, although we get criticized from both sides, people come to us because they trust us.
This administration actually is in some ways quite open and that leads to traffic. There is always something going on. They may favor some outlets, but what administration hasn't? The gaggle exclusion is a bad precedent, since it strains the way news is delivered. I doubt that will continue.