To analyze how Politico.com handles breaking news, I looked at the site’s coverage of Michael T. Flynn’s resignation as national security advisor during the first few weeks of President Trump’s administration.
On Feb. 13, the day Flynn issued his resignation, Politico.com published a series of articles about Flynn and the multiple accusations against him regarding his ties to foreign governments. Once his resignation was announced, the coverage began with a general article that summarized the events that led to his departure. Politico then produced a series of more detailed and concise articles that focused on different aspects of Flynn’s resignation, such as pieces on Flynn’s links to foreign governments, the full text of his resignation letter, the involvement of his son in the transition team, and more.
Typically news sites disclose breaking news immediately after they become aware of it, and then edit the article to include details as they arise. However, Politico did not update the first article written about Flynn’s resignation with new information, and instead produced multiple articles about various aspects of the event. With a breaking news scandal like this, Politico’s technique was to publish content on the event as soon as possible, then follow it up with multiple, detailed articles.
A pattern consistent with Politico’s breaking news strategy is to produce articles that list five important elements of the story. For example, during the Flynn scandal, one article was titled, ‘5 Times Trump’s Team Contradicted Itself About Flynn’s Russia Talks.’ When the news broke that the FBI would be investigating the Trump campaigns ties to Russia, Politico wrote an article called ‘5 Things We Just Learned About the Trump-Russia Probe.’ And when Trump’s tax returns were leaked, Politico published an article called ‘5 Things to Know About Trump’s Leaked Tax Returns.’ This shows that when big events happen, Politico converts the information in a more easy to read format, similar to Buzzfeed’s style of reporting. Instead of referring to the many articles written on Flynn’s resignation, the list of 5 technique allows readers to get to the heart of the story, quickly.
In terms of social media coverage during breaking news reports, Politico remained consistent with their technique to always include links to articles for each tweet. When the news of Flynn’s resignation broke, Politico began a tweet with #BREAKING, a hashtag they reserve for their biggest breaking news stories. In this case, not only did Politico tweet the link to the first article written on Flynn’s resignation, but they also included a red photo that reads “Politico Breaking News” in order to immediately grab Twitter users’ attention and draw them to the post.