Activist’s Death Takes Toll on Newspapers

If Chapel Hill had a patron saint of town-gown relations, it might have been Rebecca Clark. The 93-year-old woman was not only a leader in the area’s black community, but the mother of the late Doug Clark, who entertained generations of frat parties with his band, The Hot Nuts.

Ms. Clark died on Saturday. But the Triangle’s newspapers should ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

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More on the N.C. Online News Audience

UPDATE: Since my original post, I’ve received some new information from Dan Barkin, The News & Observer’s senior editor for online, about traffic to He — and others today — have pointed out that audience counts really depend on how you define your market. Statewide audience really doesn’t matter to ad buyers. Agreed, but I think it does matter in terms of editorial impact on issues of public affairs.

In an e-mail, Barkin said that “Some recent Media Audit numbers showed that reaches 51% of Triangle adults. (net of all of our sites) reaches 41.5% of Triangle adults.”

He said reached about 50 percent more people in July and August of this year than the same months last year, but he also noted that page views had jumped only about 15 percent in those two months.

Original Post (12:55 p.m.):

Following up on my interview that aired earlier this morning on WUNC radio, I just got off the phone with Matt Tatham, the director of media relations for Hitwise. His company provided the data for the WUNC story, and I wanted to know more.

And, once again, the care that needs to be taken when talking about online audience numbers becomes apparent. According to Hitwise, WRAL clobbered The News & Observer online during August, but I think the clobbering was done in a manner that is slightly different than the one emphasized in the story.

As they say on Marketplace, let’s do the numbers …

Continue reading “More on the N.C. Online News Audience”

What Drives Local News Traffic

In an interview with WUNC radio this morning, I share some anecdotal information I’ve received from my visits to online news operations at the papers in Asheville, Fayetteville, Gastonia, Greensboro, Raleigh, Shelby, and Wilmington. The four things that are really driving page views at local and regional papers are:

  1. crime
  2. weather
  3. traffic
  4. high school sports

The full audio of the report is here. Leroy Towns comments here. More TK on this subject.

The N&O and Online Journalism Students

I had nothing to do with it, but I was happy to see three students I had in my Online News Writing and Editing classes this year get a shout out on for their work this semester with the Under the Dome blog.

That partnership was a great example of what can happen when good students get paired up with a patient, energetic and innovative journalist like Ryan Teague Beckwith, the reporter who minds the blog.