Well, That Didn’t Work… Yet…

Jun 25, 2012 by

Don’t believe the “cutting edge trendsetter” hype you hear. The Newhouse Gang is using the Death of Print meme to restructure the Times-Picayune’s staff into a cheaper workforce by cutting jobs out from under loyal journalists, pressmen and other employees, then beneficently re-hiring some of them at a cheaper wage and shrunken benefits for the same jobs, but that’s just a part of their grand scheme. The reduction of the T-P from seven daily editions to three, (and this is a bit of a lie as well considering that Sunday editions are generally published as separate, weekly entities although they continue serial numbering from the daily editions,) is really meant to bolster the sagging Frankenstein that is nola-dot-com. The thinking here is that with less print to read for news, the nervous sheep in our little pasture will obediently flock to NDC for their daily news fodder. And a look at the numbers will tell you why…

In the last two years nola-dot-com’s global web traffic has seen a 50% drop, so It’s no wonder that the Newhouse Gang is willing to experiment in our front yard. Their decision to eviscerate the Times-Picayune is a baffling move to many, but it makes perfect sense if you’re a New Jersey bean counter that has no real understanding of the way communities, newspapers and the internet work. While preaching decreased print ad revenues as part of the reason for their decision, the Newhouse Gang fails to mention that due to a myriad of cheaper web options like Facebook and blogs, ad revenues are declining across the board!

Other than an odd spike at .08% in May, 2011, (around the time the Mark St Pierre verdict came down,) NDC traffic has steadily declined from around .035% in June, 2011 to its current .018% level. These numbers are from Alexa and represent the percent of all global traffic for the site. As a comparison, Google’s traffic is ranked #1 and averages about 45% of all global traffic. Pageviews for NDC have similarly declined from .001% to .0005%. Certainly reasons to panic if your name is Newhouse.

Worse yet, the percentage of traffic coming into NDC from search engines has plummeted from a high of 26% two years ago to a paltry 8% which means that 92% of their traffic comes from repeat visitors. (No doubt returning to see if anyone has taken their flame-bait.) This could be due to a number of reasons, anything from bad keyword tagging by NDC itself to people who give up on the site after a single visit. Alexa currently ranks NDC’s bounce rate, (percentage of people who view one page and leave,) at 54%, a steady increase from 45% at this time two years ago which bolsters the latter theory.

While the graphs are relatively steady in their downward spiral, there’s an obvious drop in traffic in the last month since the Newhouse Gang announced their decision to play doctor with our paper. (Technically, since the NY Times revealed the plan months before Advance Publications was ready to spring it on us…) As the next few months progress toward and beyond 3-Day in the Fall of 2012, it will be interesting to see how the numbers move. Already calls have gone out to advertisers, retailers and end-users to boycott both the T-P and NDC and I think that reflects the larger drops over the last month, but we all know there will be people who don’t care about such melodramatic measures over a silly little thing like the fair dissemination of information. Besides, it’s fun to see your name in the comments section of a real news story, even if it’s only there because someone called you a “patethic fucktard”…!

–M Styborski