Friday Afternoon News Dumps: Myth or Reality?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Here is Jeremiah Goulka on the Obama administration’s announcement last week that the Keystone XL pipeline won’t increase greenhouse gas emissions:

Chances are that you missed the State Department releasing the final environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline last week. You were meant to: it came out on 4pm on the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday. The mainstream media only had a few moments to glance at the executive summary—the report itself is an un-skimmable eleven volumes long—before the news cycle moved onto the big game.

I’m just curious: does anyone really believe this anymore? I’m talking about the infamous Friday afternoon news dump. It’s an article of faith that bad news is always released on Friday afternoon, where it will get lost in the weekend news cycle, but isn’t the evidence pretty strong that this doesn’t work? Maybe for small stuff it does, but it sure doesn’t seem to be the case for anything that people would otherwise care about. The Keystone XL report is a pretty good example. It seems to me that it got about as much attention as it was ever likely to get no matter when it was released.

I think some enterprising graduate student needs to write a dissertation about this. Create a metric that predicts how much attention a piece of news “deserves”—we can call it DQ—and then check to see if news dumps on Friday underperform the DQ metric over, say, the next 30 days. Let’s find out if this is myth or reality.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend