Has Drudge jumped the shark?

No, we didn’t write this headline to please liberals. The Drudge Report is still a powerhouse with huge traffic. Yet things have changed, and the political landscape online is much more crowded, so Gillean Reagan recently asked whether the days of Drudge are over in a recent piece in The New York Observer.

For some, including the White House, the Drudge Report is still an online media powerhouse. The Drudge Report is No. 115 in Quantcast’s list of most popular sites, ranking higher than washingtonpost.com, nypost.com and politico.com. That’s 1.1 million visitors every day, each of whom refresh the page about 15 times in a 24-hour period, according to Quantcast.

But, contrary to what some might think, fewer and fewer of those visitors seem to be the journalists that were once so captivated by Matt Drudge—not to mention his vaguely terror-inducing headlines, taste for the obscure and occasionally spinning siren light. Is it because of increased competition online? Fewer scoops? Or simple Drudge fatigue?

Has Matt Drudge lost his edge?

“Obviously, when Drudge started in the ’90s, he was a kind of phenomenon,” said Peter Baker, who was the Washington Post’s White House correspondent during the Clinton years. “He invented this whole new way of getting information out there, and he changed the landscape of what the mainstream media did. Everyone was on Drudge, checking him every day.”

Even when the Drudge Report’s stories were sensationalized or unfounded, the urge to keep clicking was irresistible. “There was something very titillating about it because he didn’t have the same kind of limitations or standards that the old-style, I guess, media did,” he said.

New sites like the Huffington Post have certainly had some impact. Reagan notes the HuffPo passed Drudge in unique visitors for the first time in February 2008. Just having a liberal alternative for breaking news has probably had the greatest impact.

Reagan brings up the stale design as another factor, but I’m not buying that one. We’ve seen from Craigslist that a simple design can actually be an advantage.

Drudge is and will remain a powerhouse, it’s just not the only big boy in town any more.


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