Thursday, May 14, 2015

A few photos from the end-of-semester awards

This spring's Orion staff gathered in O'Connell Hall on Wednesday evening for the end-of-semester awards ceremony. Here are a few photos from the party.

The editors announce this semester's awards

The video staff mugs for the camera

George Johnston was named Rookie of the Year and winner of The Orion Award

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Keeping the Breaking News Team Busy

Robert Bohler, the student media adviser at Texas Christian University, asked in my College Media Association listserv yesterday for ideas on keeping general assignment reporters busy and productive.

Because my paper had a group of continuous news reporters at Normandale Community College while I was adviser there and The Orion has a breaking news team, I had some thoughts I passed along:

• If you haven't already, purchase a portable police scanner that's passed from one reporter to the next. 

• The breaking news editor who supervises the G-A reporters should make sure they have work to do on their shifts. He or she should keep a physical or electronic basket of story ideas that can be worked or at least started during a short shift. These should include news releases that need additional reporting, phone tips, calendar-specific stories, etc. 
• Emphasize news briefs over 12-inch text stories. They get higher readership and keep your website fresh. And they can be completed, edited and posted on a short shift.
• Encourage reporters to grab a camera or use their phones to shoot people at campus events that happen during their shifts.
• Let them make extra calls on someone else's story -- breaking or not -- for a share of the byline.
• If you don't already have a beat system, start one. Shift time can be used to make those phone calls or office visits. If you do have beats, encourage your editors to brainstorm to expand the number and variety.

Maybe this should be part of the job description for The Orion's breaking news editor?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

1st in writing, 2nd in general excellence in CNPA contest

The California Newspaper Publishers Association on Saturday announced the winners of its Better Newspapers Contest.
The Orion took first place for writing and second for general excellence in the four-year-college division of the California Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspapers Contest. The winners were announced at the association's annual convention Saturday night in Coronado.

Friday, May 8, 2015

What This Week's Numbers Tell Us

The analytics provided by BlueHost, the web-hosting service for, for the first week of May tell an interesting tale if you know how to read the numbers.

Traffic overall has settling in to a pattern that's been true most of spring semester. Here's what it looks like:

Extrapolating, that would put page views for May at about 471,700, a little slower than the first four months of this year.

What visitors are looking at helps explain why.

The top three stories for traffic so far this month are:
Study Break: Tom DeLonge "To The Stars" album review - 2,937 page views
Senior Spotlight: Entrepreneur creates app to to transform how people donate - 1,816 views
Chico state faculty, staff hit the ground running - 1,172 views

Not a news story in the bunch.

But it's not as if people aren't looking for news. Right up there with the top stories are visits to the News section page on the website: 1,233 views. That tells me people continue to come to looking for news (rather than primarily being sent there through social media, which is the case for most news sites), they're just not finding what they're looking for.

And that, friends, needs to get fixed, or they won't keep coming back.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Lack of big news story hurts traffic in April

Traffic was down at in April.


I think it's because the website had little breaking news, the Orion's biggest audience grabber.

The top story of the month -- 5,712 views -- was a feature written at the beginning of March about faculty at Chico State whose hobby is running. I'm guessing there's a Facebook post out there that's still bouncing around and driving traffic to the website or students are Googling their professors and that story is coming up.

The next most popular story, a report about a memorial service for a student who died in a car accident, had half as many views.

The good news about April's numbers is that viewers are still sticking around to read lots of stories (about six per visit) once they enter the site. That's about twice the average for even the best news sites.

Here are the April numbers and how they compare to a year ago:
Unique visitors: 35,641 compared to 20,004 in April 2014
Visits: 100,560 -> 53,073
Pages views: 596,610 -> 687,672
Pages per visit: 5.92 -> 12.95
So, overall its clear about twice as many people are using the website than there were a year ago, but the crazy stickiness of has been cut in half.

That's consistent with what the traffic numbers show about the most popular pages on the site. After the running story, the top pages visited are the section pages, in this order:
Police blotter
Features/The O-Face
A year before, individual stories got more traffic than any single section page.

Here are the top stories for April 2015:
Chico State faculty hit the ground running - 5,712 page views
AS election package - 3,431
Memorial held for student who died in fatal car accident - 2,880
An experience to rival Pink Floyd - 2,864
Raiders take shrewd free-agency approach - 1,830
Designing sound in the zone - 1,711
Snapchat features red Solo cup - 1,464
The Pink Floyd Experience to Perform in Chico - 1,411
Why America should legalize prostitution - 1,153
Survivor rebuilds life after battling lyme disease - 1,121

Compare those to the top traffic generator of 2015, the death of a professor in his office on campus,  with 12,111 views.