Friday, April 13, 2018

Paper, website are both CNPA awards finalists

The Orion has been named a finalist for both newspaper and online general excellence among four-year universities in this year's California News Publishers Association annual contest. There are four finalists in each category. 

Only the UCLA Bruin was also a finalist in both categories. 

Congratulations, Orionites!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Maldonado, Fitzgerald named to lead The Orion next fall

Julia Maldonado
Current Managing Editor Julia Maldonado will be next fall's Orion editor-in-chief, and current EIC Kayla Fitzgerald will move over to become the paper's business manager.

Maldonado, a junior Journalism and Public Relations major from Citrus Heights, has worked three semesters at The Orion, first as an arts and entertainment writer, then arts section editor and managing editor. 

Outside the paper, Julia served as president of Tiger Beat magazine's teen advisory board. She is also a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, which she serves as chapter reporter. 

Kayla Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald, a senior J&PR major from Livermore, has been on the paper five semesters. She worked as a news and sports reporter, breaking news editor and managing editor before becoming editor-in-chief this spring.

Maldonado will now begin interviewing potential editorial board members. Once those editors are in place, staff hiring for next fall will begin. 

Congratulations Julia and Kayla!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Traffic improves in March, still down from a year ago

Good stories and lots of them from the news section helped post solid traffic gains in March despite the expected fall-off during spring break. Still, the website numbers are running behind Google analytics from a year ago. 

Here's a traffic comparison. Sessions are the number of visits. Users are the number of visits from a single IP address. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who read one page and leave.

Seven of the top 10 stories were news reports, and an eighth story -- a feature -- was written by Kelsi Sibert from the enterprise news team.

A better social-media effort probably contributed to the monthly increase. In March, 4,315 people arrived on an story after clicking on a social-media link, 757 more than the month before.

Compared to a year ago, though, the amount of traffic generated by social media posts is poor. In March 2017, just over 40 percent of sessions started with a Facebook or Twitter post (13,960). Last month, not quite 16 percent of visits (4,315) arrived via social media.

Because campus news is the primary reason people navigate to the website, what's being covered also affects traffic. The top stories for each of the months compared above looked like this:
March 2017 - RA's fired over alcohol allegations -- about 23,000 pageviews
March 2018 - Student falls to his death at Butte Hall, candlelight vigil -- 4,153 views
February 2018 - Rugby success story and a "Resident Evil" game review - 1,073 views

Here are the top 10 stories for March in terms of traffic:
1. One dead after falling from Butte Hall stairwell - 2,700 pageviews
2. Candlelight vigil held for death of student - 1,453
3. Student dies unexpectedly - 961
4. Head-on collision involving CalFire vehicle leaves on dead - 911
5. Longtime Chico High School teacher pleads guilty to molesting charges - 751
6. Cesar Chavez Day versus Chico State party culture - 714
7. Honor society email scam preys on the weak - 646
8. Two-week-long carnival kicks off at Chico Mall - 498
9. Local students organize walkout protest - 436
10. Chico State professor researches zebra fish in hopes of creating artificial blood - 419

 It will be interesting to see if The Orion's updated homepage design increases the number of people who click through to read more stories. The bounce rate for last month was 56 percent, quite a bit higher than recent months.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

How to use Twitter video in website stories

The Orion had wonderful Twitter video coverage of the student walkout Wednesday. Here's how to get Twitter videos into stories posted to your website.

Pull down the three-dot menu next to the heart and select Embed this Tweet.
Copy the code that starts <blockquote class... and paste it into the html of the web page.

I've posted that code on this blog page. Here's what it looks like:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How important is Facebook traffic? An experiment traffic from social media and overall for March 7-13 (click to make this bigger)
I asked Orionites to help with a little audience experiment last week, asking them to post their work to Facebook with a tag to The Orion Facebook page to see what would happen to overall site traffic.

The short answer: It probably increased traffic. The number of times someone arrived on website last week was 6,488. The week of Feb. 21-18, that number was 5,148. I wrote "probably" because lots of factors affect traffic, including reader interest in particular stories. The content of the website could have been 26% more interesting.

Here's why I think it really did increase traffic. As the chart above shows, traffic on has a baseline of regular visitors and traffic goes up and down fairly dependably as social media referrals go up and down.

But how much affect does it have on individual stories?

Here are the numbers from Google Analytics for the top three stories in terms of traffic in the past week:
Fatal traffic accident - 791 pageviews, 305 referred from Facebook, 29 from Twitter = 42% from social media
Molester arrested - 570 pageviews, 88 referred from Facebook, 58 from Twitter = 25% from social media
Off-campus housing - 238 pageviews, 14 referred from Facebook, 44 from Twitter = 24% from social media
Where visitors to came from three weeks ago and last week (click to make this bigger)
Just how important is social media to website traffic? This chart shows referrals from Facebook and Twitter make up about 16 percent of arrivals (16.25% three weeks ago, 15.9% last week). More important were web searches and visits that started with someone typing in in the URL bar. Still, it's clear that a better social media effort last week was responsible for increasing traffic in proportion to overall traffic.

The increase also coincides with a PR team effort to write more engaging headlines for Facebook. I think it's important take a look at how that might have affected traffic and at whether the Facebook page had more engagement from visitors there.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

February traffic down from a year ago

Traffic at started to climb in February, but it still ran well behind sessions and page views from a year ago.

Here are the overall numbers for February:
Pageviews: 53,336
Sessions (visits): 19,073
Pages per session: 2.8
Bounce rate (percentage of visitors who view one page and leave): 31.44 percent

QuillEngage, a service that summarizes web traffic, showed declines from a year ago on all platforms:

Month-over-month, your site's desktop sessions rose 47% to 9,094 sessions; however, there was a 24% drop in traffic (from 11,930 sessions) relative to the year before. Climbing to 9,028 sessions, mobile traffic was up 51% month-over-month. Relative to the year before, however, traffic decreased 47% from 17,090 sessions. Month-over-month, your site's tablet sessions rose 51% to 951 sessions; however, there was a 37% drop in traffic (from 1,499 sessions) relative to the year before.

The month-over-month numbers mean compared to January, when students are only on campus the  last 10 days or so, so traffic should have improved in February.

Finding the reasons for the decline in year-to-year traffic, of course, is more difficult than describing the symptoms. 

• QuillEngage pointed out that the bounce rate for the home page was higher than any other page on the website, meaning people who typed in took a look and left. One of three things is going on: you're not covering what people want to view, people don't see anything new and leave, or your web design is not putting your best foot forward (maybe you need a new homepage design).
• It looks as if referrals from social media got better at the end of the month, but that's still running behind what was coming from Facebook and Twitter a year ago. This February, 3,558 of 19,073 visits (18.6 percent) started with a social media post. The same month last year, the numbers were 7,705 of 30,519 (25.25 percent).
• Content could be another reason. A year ago, the Oroville Dam story pushed traffic to more than 80,000 pageviews. We've known for a long time that news and breaking news are what readers want more than anything else, and this February didn't have a comparable big story. In fact, the top three pages for traffic last month were the homepage, the news section front and the opinion front, which probably means most people stopped to look for something interesting and didn't find it.

Here are the top 10 most-viewed stories for February:
1. Women's rugby rising to top of the nation - 570 pageviews
2. Resident Evil ushers in a new era of terror - 503

3. Getting Kray-ze for opioid alternatives - 455
4. Woman reports assault in her own home - 434
5. Nutrition professor dies suddenly - 423
6. Police blotter - 398
7. Third-party candidate answers Berners call for political action - 395
8. New physical science building to use fossil fuels, students criticize - 368
9. President Hutchinson responds to student concerns over fee increases - 312
10. New Wildcat statue funded exclusively from donations - 311

Monday, March 5, 2018

Judges say The Orion is California's best big-school newspaper

For the second year in a row, The Orion placed first among large schools (10,000+ enrollment) in the California College Media Association contest's Best Newspaper category. 

The paper also took home eight other awards in the contest, results of which were announced Saturday night at a ceremony in Long Beach. 

First Place - Best Newspaper
Judge's comment: If I wanted to know what's going on in this community, the Orion would be the paper to go to. Very newsy and accessible. Useful. Nice designs and packaging. And the volume of reporting is impressive.

First Place - Best Overall Newspaper Design
Judge's comment: This publication was a true standout. Excellent use of photos and graphics. Very engaging. Strong editorial content and hot topics that hit the heart of social interest. The designers know how to bring all the elements together on the pages for true journalistic harmony. Excellent work!

First Place - Best Newspaper Inside Page/Spread Design
Sean Martens - Creepin' It Real

First Place - Best Sales Promotion
Amar Rama and Danny Wright - The Orion Ad Shop
Judge's comment: Concise, to the point and easy to read.

Third Place - Best Infographic
Connor Gehrke - How to Spot a Phish

Third Place - Best Social Media for a Single Event
Kayla Fitzgerald, George Johnston, Staff   - BREAKING: Updates on Oroville Spillway damage and evacuations  

Honorable Mention - Best Newspaper Column
Grayson Boyer - 
Judicial affairs preys on students ignorance
Judge's comment: A timely warning to students and indictment of university policy that can put students in legal peril.

Honorable Mention - Best Interactive Graphic
Jacqueline Morales - Chicoween Crime Map
Judge's comment: This was a creative way to round up a weekend of spooky mayhem. Plus, it demonstrated to readers that Orion reporters were hitting the streets to bring them the news in real-time.

Honorable Mention: Best Color Advertisement
Alan Ramirez - Paper won't fit in your jeans?

Congratulations everyone!