Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dead week was not so dead

A couple of things in the latest Quill Engage report for caught my eye this week:
• For the second straight week, The Orion's website gained more visitors than the week before.
• More people used their smartphones to read the news than any other platform.

People visited the site 6,217 times during the week and viewed 16,083 pages. That means the average visitor looked at 2.59 pages, driving the bounce rate (the percentage of visits that consisted of just one page view) down to 35.24 percent. That's very good.

Total traffic also was better than the same week last year, which is pretty exciting.

Besides more traffic, the significant statistic in this paragraph was how people visited. Smartphones were the device of choice by about 40 visits over desktop. That's important, of course, but the trend over a year ago is really important: Mobile-device visits were up 135 percent from a year before.

Editors should be thinking about that as they consider how stories are going to be told via the web next semester.

Here are the top 10 pages visited during dead week (number one is the home page):

Monday, December 12, 2016

Don't do this! Photo illustrations and false light

The rotating photo gallery at the top of home page at today has a nice photo of students walking through campus with this headline:

Students targeted for sex work

The link takes readers to a story about sex trafficking and the STOP organization, which is a campus effort to fight sexual slavery. The story mentions the group's contention that students are a target of slavers and that Chico is no stranger to the problem.

Unfortunately for The Orion, none of the students in the photo on the website has anything to do with the story in any direct way, except that they are students at Chico State. The implication of pairing the photo with the headline is, you guessed it, that they have been the targets of the local traffickers.

This is called "false light," which happens when something published about a person creates a false impression about them. In this case, that photo implies these particular students were targeted by sex traffickers.

Someone who bothered to follow the link to the story would figure out that the students in the photo were not really the subject of the story, but what about those who didn't click the link?

The easiest way to prevent false light problems is to only illustrate stories with photos from the actual events that generated the story. Another way to think about it: Photos with five or fewer people in them should have cutline information naming the subjects. Someone gathering the names for this particular photo might have been asked by the people shown why the photo was being used, and a light of recognition might have been illuminated in a photographer or editor's brain.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Spring 2017 editorial leaders named

Jovanna Garcia

Molly Sullivan
Carly Plemons, The Orion's editor-in-chief for Spring 2017, has chosen her editorial team.

They are:
Content managing editors:  Jovanna Garcia and Molly Sullivan
Chief copy editor: Crystal Jinkens
Art director: Sean Martens
Director of public relations: Katherine Feaster
Enterprise news editor: Bianca Quilantan
Breaking news editor: Kayla Fitzgerald
Sports editor: Makayla Hopkins
Arts and Entertainment editor: Anna Porretta
Opinion editor: Kenta McAfee
Multimedia editor: Miguel Orozco

Nicole Huggins will return as the newspaper's business manager.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November numbers trend upward

Traffic at recovered nicely last month, with page views topping 48,600 and pages per session climbing to 2.62. Those numbers are even better than they seem because, as the chart above shows, website visits fall dramatically when Chico State is on a break. That means traffic was down a full week and the monthly traffic still improved from the month before.

Three stories accounted for 12.5 percent of the November traffic:
• The death of freshman Jack Callaway
• A sports column about racism in NFL team names
• An opinion piece about exploding Samsung 7s

The other top stories were:
• A sports column advocating pay for college athletes
• A news story about undocumented students being urged to return to the U.S.

The Thanksgiving-break traffic dip isn't surprising. A look at analytics for the past 12 months shows how important school being in session is to paper.

The middle of summer is by far the slowest time for the website.

One other interesting thing about the chart is the slump in October. It's worth a closer look at the numbers to see what was behind it.