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 as well. It can be explained by an illustration from this past week:

The days with multiple posts to 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'll 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 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 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

Orion website readers also continued their migration from tablet and desktop to mobile phones. Here's what 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