Friday, January 16, 2015

First look at's new design

Saiyo Fox, new web editor for, worked long hours over break to redesign The Orion's website. It was rolled out yesterday.

The new theme, Tribune from WPZOOM, is more understated than the previous design and presents a cleaner landing (home) page than last year's model.

Here are some screen shots:

And here's the old look. What do you think about the changes?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Developing story ideas

Image from Wikimedia Commons
I was a story-idea machine back when I was a reporter.
Sure, that's bragging, but it's true. I always had three stories in the works and contributed stories outside my beat during news meetings. Editors loved me!
How'd I do it?
Here's an annotated list of story-idea sources I discussed at Oriontation yesterday:
Beats - The most traditional source of story ideas. Talking to people, attending meetings, gathering documents from a geographic or subject area is the way most stories happen.
Calendar - Before computers, I kept a drawer with file folders marked 1-31 for each day of the month and dumped news releases about events, noted about important news anniversaries and anything else date-specific in the folders, then looked through them a week ahead for ideas. You can use an online calendar that lets you attach documents or URLs to do the same thing.
Localize it - Basically, when something happened elsewhere, I thought about what that would mean in my community. This only works if you're paying attention to the news and take the time to browse other paper's websites. For The O, watching other good college newspaper sites would be a good strategy.
Observation - When you're in a story-idea frame of mind, which means being curious and observant, you can pick up a handful of ideas just walking across campus or driving to the mall.
Audience contributions - Readers call with suggestions. Online comments often prompt ideas. Conversations with friends and neighbors can be a rich source of stories. Some papers and a lot of TV stations do a good job of asking readers and viewers for tips.
News releases - Just because a public relations professional is touting a story doesn't mean it isn't news. Use media releases as a starting point for stories. They are especially good sources of news briefs, which can help keep the website stocked with fresh news content.
Social media - Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other online platforms to tap into what people are talking about on campus and in the community. Someone should be looking at #chicostate on Twitter every day or even more often.
Databases - More and more data is published online every day, and the information contained in databases and be scraped and analyzed for news and trends. When you identify a website that's a good source of information you're interested in, use a tool such as to get email push notifications that something new has been posted.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Orion page views top 7 million in 2014

The final 2014 traffic numbers for are in:
Page views: 7,151,036
Pages viewed per visit: 11.63
Total number of visits: 614,420

Because The Orion switched to new hosting and a new content management system during the fall of 2013, comparable numbers aren't available. The fall months (September through December), though, looked like this (2013 listed first):
Page views: 1,114,396 -  3,431,530
Pages viewed per visit: 10.3 - 10.85
Total number of visits: 107,876 - 316,265

So, traffic roughly tripled from last fall to this. Pretty impressive!

It wasn't a surprise that December and January numbers were lower than the rest of the academic year. Students and much of the faculty aren't on campus and campus news, The Orion's most-viewed content, slows to a trickle. This graph shows what happened last month:

Still, December 2014's page views were 568,192, a 109-percent increase from last December's 271,686 views.

Here are the most-viewed stories of 2014, according to analytics from's Web hosting service, BlueHost:
Wildcat of the Year coverage - 60,195 page views
Woman killed, dismembered by train - 21,698
Pocket Points hits Chico State - 21,475
Chico State student found dead in swimming pool - 15,504
Frat house burns while parties rage - 10,554

2014 was an excellent year, everyone. Congratulations!