In this day and age, social media presence is becoming of the utmost importance for the survival of print journalism. Here is a side by side comparison of the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News across their various social media platforms.
*It is important to note that the Free Press has been published since 1831, while the News only began in 1873. Differences in audience size and circulation size should be kept in mind when looking at social media numbers.*
As you can see, the Detroit Free Press out numbers the News’ followers by more than 30,000 people. The News joined twitter about a year after the Freep, which joined in 2007. Both outlets tweet at approximately the same rate, averaging about 5-7 tweets per hour. The News tweets photos significantly more often that the Freep, yet both retweet other people about the same amount.
The Free Press has more than twice as many likes on Facebook as the News. Within the last 24 hours, the Freep’s most popular post gathered 980 likes, and another article got 500 shares. The News fell far below the Freep, with their most popular post in the past day only getting about 170 likes and another article only getting 36 shares.
Both outlets tend to neglect their youtube channels, but the Detroit News surpasses the Freep sweepingly on youtube, with more than 1,000 followers to the Freep’s 285. Regardless, the News hasn’t posted a video in 5 months, and the Freep hasn’t posted in 2 years.
On instagram, the Free Press surpasses the News by 10,000 followers. The Freep has posted 1260 times, in comparison to the News’ 478 pictures.
I’ve looked extensively at the Instagram’s of each account because newspapers are constantly striving to reach the younger demographic audience. According to Business Insider:
Over 90% of the 150 million people on Instagram are under the age of 35, which makes it an attractive platform for many apparel, entertainment, and media brands focused on the 18- to 34-year-old age bracket.
Both papers’ instagrams are dominated by photos from individual photographers who work at the papers: Eric Seals of the Freep, and Brandy Baker of the News. I decided to try to contact each via twitter, just to see how available they were on social media. First, I tweeted at Eric Seals.
— Eric Seals (@ericseals) November 25, 2014
I looked for Brandy Baker on Twitter, and I couldn’t find her. Then I looked for her individual Instagram and couldn’t find it, either, which I found surprising since she has such a strong presence on the Detroit News instagram. I ended up emailing her, and she got back to me promptly.
I spoke with both Eric Seals and Brandy Baker about digital disruption, photojournalism, Instagram, and keeping up with a changing media market.
Here’s a comprehensive infographic of the Detroit Free Press versus the Detroit News across various platforms.
It is interesting to note that while the Freep dominates digitally over the News, they have different platforms in which they excel.
The Free Press does very well for itself on Facebook, beating out its Twitter by almost 50,000 followers.
The News on the other hand performs best on Twitter, with more than 5,000 more followers than on its Facebook.
While both papers support themselves through online and print ad revenue, neither have a paywall on their websites.
In the future, it would be interesting to be able to study how many people who subscribe to the paper’s print product additionally follow them on other kinds of social media, or if the print and digital audiences are totally separate.