Friday, March 7, 2014

Website visitors exceed 15,000

Last month, hit an important benchmark when the number of unique visitors to the site exceeded 15,000. That's triple the number of copies The Orion prints every Wednesday.

Maybe more impressive is the number of page views to the site in February, 443,997. That's way more than double the traffic last September (200,101) when the new Orion website went online.

These analytics from The Orion's hosting service don't tell why the numbers are increasing so quickly, but it's fair to say that more readers generally are going to the Web to get their news and is doing a good job of providing it. I believe the successful transition to putting new content on the site daily is what's responsible for the dramatic growth this semester.

Another statistic, I think, shows this. In the 41,608 visits to the site (2.62 visits per unique visitor) in February, 10.67 pages were viewed on average. The BBC News website, one of the best and most popular in the world, gets between three and four pages on average.

Congratulations, Orionites!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Let the Web be the Web

Wednesday's edition of The Orion had a nicely packaged feature assembled by Sergio Sanchez about the seniors on Chico State's men's and women's basketball teams. In it, Sergio wrote capsule descriptions of what each player had accomplished this season followed by quotations from each (two were missing) about his or her most memorable moment accompanied by photos with player position and hometown.

This half-page of photos and text is so much more readable than the typical 15-inch slab of text about the departing seniors, so I was surprised to see the same feature on looking like a newspaper feature story.

With a little thought and a little more work, the version that ran in the ink-and-paper edition could have been constructed. But the Web offers lots of other possibilities (think of The Daily Prophet, the newspaper with photos that move, from the Harry Potter books and movies). Source:

Or wouldn't it be fun to see and hear embedded Vine, Tout or InstaGram videos instead of photos on the newsprint version of Sergio's feature?

How about screen-wide videos or photos of each player that animate when a reader scrolls down a page? It might look something like this from Pitchfork, a British magazine.

Click to read the entire scrolling story.

I'll bet you can come up with a half-dozen other ways to present the information. Think about those the next time you're planning a story the Web.

Monday, March 3, 2014

CCMA Awards: Judges' comments

Here are judges' comments about awards The Orion won in the 2013 California College Media Association contest:

General Excellence - 1st place
"The news content in the Orion is strong. The paper attempts to move the needle and goes after things like a bad police chief, problems for Chico police, unsolved sexual assaults, as well as smaller issues like lice. It had true enterprise, and some of its watchdog work is “breaking” thanks to its reporting. Strong sourcing distinguished several of these stories and the excellent use of graphics helped break out critical information. Its Opinion pages are extremely strong. Masterful cartoons/illustrations combined with a nice, heavy font give the pages a distinctly professional look and feel. The editorial writing lives up to the design with clear, often strongly worded pieces on relevant topics that are often covered in the news section. Personal columnists take some interesting angles – like suggesting that arresting a student for being drunk in public is less effective than sending him home to sleep. The Sports section had nice variety with some enterprise on the grueling schedule of a cross-country runner, the athletic department’s new social media strategy, and an outside the-box sport called “slacking.” The basketball preview page is also a nice service to readers. This is also a well-designed paper with effective use of fonts and excellent use of space. Nothing here is oversized. There were a few places the paper stumbled with clich├ęd writing, recurring features that miss the mark, and stories that read like press releases, but these were exceptions to an otherwise solid publication."
Overall design - 3rd place
"Strong typography and headline hierarchy work well with visuals throughout the sections."
Breaking News Story - 2nd place - Pedro Quintana
"Police arrest Chico man on suspicion of sexual assault, kidnappings"
"Compelling lede, lots of original reporting, also added safety tips and info to make it more forward-looking and useful to readers."
Editorial - 2nd place
No comments.

Sports Story - 1st place - Nick Woodard
"Sights Set on Rio"
"Using an informative yet simple writing style, this story of a blind runner tells itself in a way that keeps you reading. The writer had an uncanny ability to answer each and every question you might have at the exact moment you would ask it. The story also avoids the total feel-good atmosphere some writers might try for by pointing out the discrimination and other non-visual difficulties that can crop up. There are just the right number of voices in the story to tell a tale that is smart in its brevity but long on insight and information."
Photo Illustration - 2nd place - Logan Missner, Jessica Amaro and Scott Ledbetter
"Downhill Daredevil"
"Good use of photography, strong display type with good informational insets. A high impact illustration."

Sports Page Design - 1st place - Scott Ledbetter and Jessica Amaro
Downhill Daredevil
"Fun, energetic page (judge stopped to read it!). This is what makes a page successful: You stop, notice it, and read it."

Headline Writing - 2nd place - Brett Appley
"Especially liked: @ChicoState uses power of #socialmedia to connect fans, school sports."
Infographic - 1st place - Robert Harris and Scott Ledbetter
"Covered California"
"In a world where hardly anyone understands the new health-care coverage brought on by Obamacare, this weekly student paper created a flow chart to help explain just what students need to know or do to be covered. A wonderful idea and brilliantly written. I wish I had thought of doing this. Superb work."
Cartoon - 1st place - Liz Coffee
"Dangers on Drunken Students"
"A strong "Scared Straight"-style public service message. Holds students accountable for the consequences of their behavior."

Storify of San Diego awards