Teaching Examples

0.029 percent of blog posts mention NY Times
July 9, 2006, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Chris Anderson, author of the just-released The Long Tail (sure to be a best seller), puts it all in perspective for us:

Technorati shows that there are currently 555,000 posts linking to the New York Times. Nearly 800,000 posts mention the Times in one way or another. Sounds like a lot? Not if you pull back and look at the entire blogosphere. Technorati is currently tracking 2.7 billion links.

What are most people actually talking about? Mostly themselves, their friends, their family and things that are more interesting to them and their daily lives than whatever we in the media choose to focus on with our limited resources and space.

What’s really cool about the whole concept of “the long tail” is that it matches what a lot of critics of news Web sites have long observed: All the attention and time lavished on the home page is kind of pointless, because the way you really attract traffic and page views is through search. And search requires you to lavish attention on the back end, the structure of stories and individual pieces of the site — the meat and potatoes, instead of merely the menu.

If anyone in the world of journalism is scratching his or her head and asking “What is the long tail?” — please note that the phrase had already become a cliché more than a year ago. The original article appeared in Wired in October 2004.

Related post: Yes, search absolutely DOES drive traffic

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4 Comments so far
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It’s the Long Tail that drives the success of companies like iTunes and Netflix. In the end, it’s that large assortment of less popular content that can in sum generate far more revenue/visitors than the big-ticket items that are traditionally the focus.

Thus, the more newspapers cut back on their pets columnists, quirky travel stories and indie CD reviews, the less likely they are to survive on the Web. The concept of what’s truly our bread and butter needs to keep changing.

Comment by Danny Sanchez

Google does a terrific job of helping folks bypass the “menu” for national issues like those covered by the Times. I don’t see it doing nearly so well below the major-metro level.

Sure, lots of folks navigate to the local news through search rather than trying to remember whether it’s “theblade.com” or “toledoblade.com.” But do national search engines connect people with local stuff on anything approaching the efficiency that they do it on national stuff? Not in my experience.

Not that many newspapers are connecting people with local stuff, either. But nobody’s providing this service very well, yet.

Until somebody rolls out some low-noise local search services — and I don’t know why that shouldn’t be done by newspapers — I’m going to keep looking at our front page.

Comment by Michael

Oh, and I gotta disagree with Danny, above: long-tail economics don’t mean “quirky” = profit; they mean niche = profit. Like, your own niche, not somebody else’s. Pets columnists? Photos of strays from the local pound, maybe.

As Jarvis said the other day, dump the bureaus!

Comment by Michael

I agree with Michael that national search engines do not connect people with local stuff on news Web sites very well (today). But what I have found is that they DO connect me to blog posts ABOUT those local news stories — when someone has in fact blogged about them. And then, from the blog post, I get a link to the story on the local newspaper’s Web site.

Now, the suits are fond of saying this is unimportant, because if I do not live in their town, they do not want my click on their page anyway.

What they are ignoring is that the people in their town can’t find their stuff. If an out-of-town person can find it, well … then chances are your local people can find it too.

The reverse is also true. I can’t find it? Then they can’t find it either. Because your local people are using the same search I am using. The search on most news Web sites doesn’t work worth a damn.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

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