Controversial US media outlets Newsmax and Gateway Pundit became two of the world’s largest news websites last month, new research has found.
In a global ranking of the top 50 English-language news sites prepared for Press Gazette, Newsmax and Gateway Pundit made it into the list thanks to year-on-year growth of 613% and 306% respectively.
The rest of the top 50 was primarily made up of mainstream news websites from the US, UK, Canada and Australia.
BBC.co.uk and BBC.com combined came out on top with 1.44bn website clicks in November, up 65% since November 2019. CNN came in second with 1.36bn clicks on its websites (CNN.com and edition.CNN.com), up 134%.
The next largest websites belonged to the New York Times (705m views, up 189%), Fox News (606m, up 89%), the Guardian (481m, up 89%), Mail Online (366m, up 12%) and the Washington Post (298m, up 103%).
The study, undertaken by SimilarWeb for Press Gazette, also examined the top sources of traffic – direct, email, referrals, social media and search – for news websites (see more below).
Who are Newsmax and Gateway Pundit?
With 63m and 61m visits respectively, Newsmax and Gateway Pundit were the 38th and 39th most popular English-language news websites in the world in November, coming in above the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, the Daily Beast and the UK’s Metro.
Newsmax, which has a 24-hour TV news channel in addition to its website, appears to have grown in popularity among pro-Trump Americans since the election. Giving more coverage to the outgoing president’s scepticism about the result of the election, media pundits in the US believe it has taken a share of the conservative market from Fox News.
On Monday this week, Newsmax broadcast a statement to “clarify” false claims that were made about two vote-processing companies, Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, on its platform.
Newsmax, whose chief executive Chris Ruddy is a friend of Trump, called the election for Joe Biden later than most media outlets.
Ruddy told the BBC last week: “There is a media-spin that somehow we are trying to deny the election or as you say out-Trump, Trump. But I don’t think anybody could out-Trump, Trump, but we are certainly sticking to the facts and have been very consistent.”
Website rating tool Newsguard, which seeks to advise readers on how much they can trust different outlets, gives Newsmax a score of 35 out of 100, advising readers to “proceed with caution: This website severely violates basic journalistic standards.”
This compares with 69.5 for Fox News and 42 for Breitbart.
The Gateway Pundit has a Newsguard score of 20 because the ratings site believes it “severely violates basic standards of credibility and transparency”.
The site, which is run by its founder Jim Hoft, has regularly been accused of peddling conspiracy theories relating to the election and other news events.
It remains to be seen whether Newsmax and the Gateway Pundit will retain their new online following. SimilarWeb figures show that both sites had been growing steadily before spiking dramatically in November.
Newsmax had 8.8m views in November 2019 and had grown to 15.4m in October this year before leaping to 63m last month.
The Gateway Pundit grew from 15m in November last year to 29.4m in October 2020 before reaching 61m last month.
Where does major news website traffic come from?
In addition to website clicks, the SimilarWeb report for Press Gazette also examined the source of online traffic for the largest English-language news outlets.
The majority of clicks for large websites are either direct – i.e. web users go straight to them – or originate from online searches, e.g. on Google.
The websites with the largest proportion of direct traffic were right-leaning news aggregation site drudgereport.com (90%), Australia’s news.com.au (68%), Breitbart (67%), UK-headquartered aggregation site Newsnow (67%) and Newsmax (64%).
Top for ‘organic search’ (as opposed to search results that are paid for) were usnews.com (85%), Cosmopolitan (84%), Hello magazine (74%), Forbes (73%) and the UK’s express.co.uk (72%).
Top for ‘referrals’ – i.e. links from other sites – were finance.yahoo.com (18%), the Gateway Pundit (17%), Associated Press (12%), BBC.com (11%) and the New York Post (10%).
And top for email-generated traffic were US politics site thehill.com (6%), Mail Online (6%), people.com (5%), Bloomberg (3%) and Newsnow (3%).
Picture credit: Evan El-Amin/ Shutterstock