Back in the days of dinosaurs — that is, before the Internet — newspapers used to go through elaborate exercises to figure out what people were reading. We did surveys, we tracked national data, we even gave readers markers and asked them to mark the stories they read and how far into each story they read. And for all that, we still felt like we were groping through a shadowy room.
The mystery may still remain when it comes to print, but there’s no doubt what people are reading online — because it’s tracked daily by the computers that readers use to access the stories (don’t worry, this is not some NSA op, we only get a count of what’s been read, not who’s doing the reading).
I’ve got disappointing news for those of you who were sure readers gravitate toward the cerebral news or news about the pressing political, social and fiscal issues of our day. Nope: They like pictures, crime news and obituaries. The figures don’t lie.
During the week, we get about 20,000 “unique visitors” to our site and they typically view 80,000 to 100,000 pages. (Nice to know you’re unique, eh?) Just as an example of what they are reading, here are the top items, in order, from the past two days:
Tuesday: Medford Cruise photo gallery, Justified use of force, obituaries, Highway 62 rollover, Police chief recommends liquor license denial, Barney’s Burgers fire, video of failed assault, Medical marijuana suspects face new charges.
Wednesday: Medford Cruise photo gallery, obituaries, Arson at Barney’s Burgers, Hedrick monitor fired for wanting to carry gun to school, Bank robbery suspect arrested, Emergency Services listing, weather, Former Medford man arrested on child sex crime charges.
To be fair to the stories about car crashes, bank robberies and child abuse arrests, the photo galleries have a distinct advantage, If there are 20 photos in a gallery and a reader looks at all 20, that counts as 20 page views. But they are very popular: On Tuesday, readers viewed just under 9,000 photos from the Cruise alone.
Strange, the editor’s blog didn’t show up on Most Viewed list. I guess I need to add more crime topics — or maybe photos of my car.