Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spring semester website traffic doubles

Academic year 2016-2017 traffic for theorion.com

Fueled by a strong effort on the news side and controversy in the opinion section, theorion.com completed the spring semester with more than double the traffic of the website's two previous semesters. This strong showing brought overall traffic to some very impressive numbers for the year:
Pageviews: 678,035
Unique users: 186,315
Bounce rate: 36 percent

Because The Orion didn't start gathering data from Google Analytics until December 2015, it's impossible to make a comparison to last year, but the numbers for Spring 2017 make theorion.com look like an entirely different website from the two previous semesters. Traffic this spring accounted for more than two-thirds of traffic to the site for the academic year.

Traffic for Spring Semester 2017
The spring-to-spring comparison shows a dramatic increase in pageviews, sessions and unique visitors.

Traffic for Spring Semester 2016
The numbers for Spring 2016 and Fall 2017 are similar, with last spring showing better traffic numbers overall, but a poorer bounce rate (80.41 percent versus 65.43 percent), which means more people stayed on the website to read more stories this fall. The bounce rate this past semester, though, was an amazing 18.11 percent. (Bounce rate is "the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.")

Traffic for Fall Semester 2016

With the dramatic increase in traffic on the website, it's counterintuitive that The Orion's mobile app was less popular with visitors than the year before. In every category, more people used the app to read more pages on the app last year. More people also downloaded the app last year.

Traffic for The Orion mobile app 2016-2017 academic year

Traffic for The Orion mobile app 2015-2016 academic year

Friday, May 19, 2017

And the Winners Are...

The Orion editors announced their end-of-semester awards Wednesday night at Woodstock's Pizza in downtown Chico.

Best of...

Sports: Chris Hendrickson
Opinon: Sophia Robledo
Arts & Entertainment: Anisha Brady
Breaking News: Jackie Morales-Ramirez 
Enterprise News: Karen Limones
Copy Editing: Christy Levine
Photography: Cortneanne Campbell
Videography: Carlos Gonzales
Design: Alán Ramirez
PR: Unique Torres
Best Editor: Kayla Fitzgerald

Sunshine Award: Miguel Orozco
Rookie  of the Year: Crystal Jinkens
The Orion Award: Jordan Rodrigues

Congratulations to the award winners and to the rest of this semester's Orion staff!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Strong spring traffic gets even stronger

Spring 2016/2017 traffic for theorion.com
Traffic for theorion.com continued its exponential growth in April with 137,107 pageviews, more than doubling traffic for the same month a year ago.

Other April numbers:
• 40,578 unique users
• bounce rate (visitors who viewed only one page on a visit) dropped to 13.47 percent
• average pages per session inched up to 2.9

April 2017 traffic for The Orion app
The Orion mobile app also had one of its best months ever, with more than 9,000 page views. Downloads were 1,864 as of today.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Business manager, managing editor named

Two current Orion staff members have been named to leading roles on the paper for next fall.
Danny Wright

Danny Wright, who writes this semester for news, will take on the paper's top business-side job. He's a freshman business administration major from El Dorado Hills. Danny's also an honors student.
Kayla Fitzgerald

Kayla Fitzgerald will be second in command on the news side under new EIC Elizabeth Castillo. The senior journalism and public relations major from Livermore has done a terrific job with the breaking news section this semester. Kayla has also reported for the sports and enterprise news sections of the paper and was a candidate for EIC this spring.

Congratulations Danny and Kayla!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Make This (Unmagical) Change and You'll Get More Readers

Traffic on The Orion app for March 27-April 25, 2017

What's wrong with this picture?

It shows a typical slump in traffic on The Orion app on weekends, a trend that's replicated just about every weekend on theorion.com as well. It can be explained by an illustration from this past week:

The days with multiple posts to theoriion.com in this chart are the same days that have the most traffic on The Orion app. The same is true with traffic to the website.

I predict traffic overall would increase if The Orion could attract more readers on the weekends. I also think the graphs above show that posting more stories on Fridays and Saturdays would make that happen.

This is a more complicated solution than it seems. The first step is easy, and it's something the breaking news team has been doing all semester: staggering deadlines so stories are being turned in every day of the week instead of mostly on Sundays and Mondays (so they're ready for Wednesday's print edition). To make this happen, each section editor needs to the same: assign stories so at least one comes in every day.

The next steps are harder.

The second step is figuring out a way for the stories to be edited and sent to the copy desk in a consistent way. The third is getting the stories edited the same day or night they're turned in and published to the website.

The way to do both is to schedule section editors and copy editors to work every day, or at least setting deadlines so stories are available to be published every day. That means identifying stories that can wait a day or two before they're published, editing them, and then scheduling them to be published on days section editors aren't working.

It also means having editors consistently available to handle the copy. I'd suggest a schedule like this:

News and opinion section editors: Sunday through Thursday, 4-7 p.m.
Sports and arts section editors: Tuesday through Saturday, 4-7 p.m. (working later for late games or concert reviews)
Copy editors, a copy chief and an assistant chief: Monday through Saturday, 6:30-9:30 and Sunday 1-9 p.m. (to accommodate print layout) in shifts. The copy chief and assistant would each work three nights and part of the day Sunday so all shifts would be covered.

• section editors insist reporters bring in (not just turn in) their stories on deadline days and make them stay until the stories are finished,
• a copy editor and a copy chief read every story and post it to the web, and
• everyone pitches in to pencil-tap pages on Mondays,
stories will be cleaner and more timely, reporters will learn not to procrastinate, and readers will get used to the idea that The Orion will have something fresh for them to read, listen to or watch every day of the week. And they're read more stories.

It's not magic, but it will be effective.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Elizabeth Castillo Named Next Fall's Editor-in-Chief

Elizabeth Castillo will lead the editorial staff of The Orion next fall.
Elizabeth Castillo

Elizabeth transferred to Chico State two years ago from Bakersfield College, where she served as editor-in-chief of The Renegade Rip. Her experience on The Orion has included stints as an enterprise news reporter and editor of the enterprise news section. She will start her term as The Orion editor-in-chief in mid-August.

She is a news-option journalism and public relations major.

Elizabeth found out just last week that she will spend a week-and-a-half this summer at the Politico Journalism Institute in Washington, D.C. The program includes interactive lectures, panels with news professionals and a chance to have stories published on the POLITICO news platforms.

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pageviews Topped 99,000 in March

Spring semester traffic has been very, very good - Quill Engage graphic
Traffic at theorion.com set a new record last month, 99,303 pageviews, driven by the RA-firing story. The two posts about Chico State Housing Services dismissing a third of its resident advisers generated 23,623 page views.

The traffic record was all the more impressive because spring break fell in the middle of the month. Traffic that week was just 4,464 web sessions and about 13,000 page views, about two-thirds of an average week and typical of what happens to theorion.com traffic during school breaks.
March stats from Google Analytics
Here are the March numbers:
27,175 unique users
99,303 pageviews
2.91 pages per sesssion
13.86 percent bounce rate (the proportion of views who read just one story on a website and then leave)

The Orion mobile app also had a great month. Here are the numbers, all up from previous months:
March statistics from goodbarber.com

Orion website readers also continued their migration from tablet and desktop to mobile phones. Here's what quillengage.com said about the shift:

Though sessions for tablet users were down, mobile and desktop sessions were up. In keeping with the month prior, mobile continued to produce more traffic than any other device. Your site's mobile traffic grew 20% to 20,553 sessions month-over-month. Sessions from mobile users increased from the same month a year ago as well, up 37% from 14,992 sessions. Your site's desktop traffic increased 2% to 12,173 sessions month-over-month, but compared to a year ago, sessions were down 10%. Month-over-month, tablet sessions slipped 5% to 1,419, and traffic fell 37% from the previous year.
As has been the case every month the past several years, news drove most of the traffic in March. Here's a list of the top 10 stories in terms of pageviews: 
RA firings - 14,642
RA firings folo - 9,161
Family, neighbors react to police shooting - 2,623
CSU tuition increase - 1,837
Cannabis-oil lab bust - 770
Dorm life without RAs - 763
Orionscopes - 746
Pedestrian killed by train identified - 715
Veganism arguments (opinion column) - 687
Orion wins best paper in California - 566