Readers' Representative Journal

A conversation on newsroom ethics and standards

« Previous Post | Readers' Representative Journal Home | Next Post »

Pulitzer announcements fuel traffic in April

May 17, 2011 |  2:44 pm

A memo from Managing Editor/Online Jimmy Orr: 

It was another great month for -– recording its second-highest-trafficked month in the history of the site, with 159 million page views. This is a 20% increase from our average in 2010 and falls short only of last month’s record.

Not surprisingly, the day the Pulitzer Prizes were announced was among the most trafficked days in April. Readers who came to The Times to learn more about the Pulitzer-winning work got a timeline tracking the Bell salary scandal, as well as full coverage. They also could view the great photos taken by feature photography winner Barbara Davidson and breaking-news photography finalist Carolyn Cole, as well as other award-winning work from throughout the year.

Unlike with the March numbers, with which we could point to the coverage of one news event as a driving force, April was a much more balanced effort with increases across the site.

Our blogs were representative of that balanced production as they continued to reach new heights. Just last month we announced that it was the first time that eight of our blogs each topped 1 million page views. That record didn’t last long. In April, 12 of our blogs exceeded the million mark. Plus, nine hit all-time records. Our continued growth in this area is a testament to the creativity and energy of the bloggers and colleagues, in particular the copy desks.

The revamped Politics Now, under the guidance of Jim Oliphant, immediately made an impact, recording nearly 2 million page views in its first month out. Jim’s strategy? He stayed in the conversation continually, posting new stories from Washington throughout the day.

Just like Money & Company’s strategy for covering the shutdown of the online poker sites. Not only did John Corrigan’s team break the news, but they continually advanced the story: here, here, here and here. As a result, the blog recorded nearly three times its previous record high.

“We try to pick our spots, and this was one story that had two big things going for it,” Corrigan said. “One, there was significance –- everyone following Internet gambling was wondering when the government was going to take action against what appeared to be blatant flouting of the law. So this enforcement action was news.”

 “And two, we knew there would be wide reader interest, as the legions of online gamblers searched for information about what was happening and what it meant for their online accounts.”

Our entertainment, culture and photo blogs took the same approach to the royal wedding. Jerome Adamstein’s vibrant gallery captured readers’ attention for days. By the time the West Coast woke up, Henry Chu and Janet Stobart in London, as well as a small overnight crew (including copy editors Jessica Parks and Marina Levario, fashion critic Booth Moore, editor Susan Denley, producers Marc Olson and Jenn Harris, and the team at Ministry of Gossip, notably Christie D’Zurilla and Nardine Saad), had plenty for people to read and see.

End result? Ministry, Culture Monster and All the Rage had more readers than ever before.

Of course, this is nothing new to Shelby Grad and his team. Aggressive coverage by Metro on several big stories –- the Dodger Stadium beating, the Santa Monica synagogue bombing, and the Barry Bonds verdict -– led L.A. Now to its second-highest-trafficked month ever.

In entertainment, the Pop & Hiss team –- Todd Martens, Jessica Gelt, Margaret Wappler, Nate Jackson and August Brown, edited by Randall Roberts -– provided start-to-finish coverage of Coachella 2011. Highlights included news of security changes and a Ferris wheel “jumper,” reviews of Arcade Fire and Kanye West, and photos of the scene at the music festival. Randy Lewis returned to the scene for Stagecoach at month’s end.

On the social media front, Martin Beck and Lindsay Barnett continue to make great strides. Readers are sharing our journalism more than ever. Facebook recommendations are nearly twice the level of the 2010 average.  Traffic from search, meanwhile, is up more than 20% over last year’s average.

As we strive to improve the commenting experience for our readers, two more of our blogs are using Facebook Comments. Money & Company and L.A. Now are the latest blogs to take part in this experiment. The goal? Better comments and fewer trolls. It’s working.

User-generated content is working too. Our Southern California Moments gallery, in which we feature a reader photo every day, drew more than 700,000 page views in April.

Making sure is technically sound is an important priority. We’ve started working with an outside firm to help eliminate technological problems affecting our site. The firm recently conducted an extensive audit and identified some significant problems. Our team is working with Tribune to rectify these issues to make sure the site is working properly and optimized for high traffic.

We’ve also retained the services of one of the top usability firms in the world to conduct an analysis of our site. We’ll use its audit to improve the overall user experience in terms of readability, ease of navigation and design friendliness. Focus-group testing will begin late this month, and we can expect a full report in June.

Now the tale of the tape:

Record-breaking blogs:

  1. Ministry of Gossip
  2. Money & Company
  3. All the Rage
  4. Pop & Hiss
  5. Politics Now
  6. Culture Monster
  7. Dodgers Blog
  8. Jacket Copy
  9. Opinion L.A.

Top 10 blogs (page views)

  1. Framework (12,073,683)
  2. L.A. Now (7,495,616)
  3. Ministry of Gossip (2,924,134)
  4. Show Tracker
  5. Travel
  6. Politics Now
  7. Technology
  8. Money & Company
  9. Top of the Ticket
  10. Booster Shots

Top-read articles or blog posts

  1. Three largest online poker sites indicted and shut down (Nathaniel Popper)
  2. Gang tattoo leads to a murder conviction (Robert Faturechi)
  3. Why Hillary Clinton must run in 2012 (Andrew Malcolm)
  4. Flash mob on Venice boardwalk ends in shooting (Gale Holland)
  5. Ikea’s U.S. factor churns out unhappy workers (Nathaniel Popper)