Paper Reports on Itself?

July 20th, 2009 8:06 AM

I think this is an example of the distraction that the Internet and the New Media have driven the Old Media to, but it seems that the Ledger-Enquirer of Columbus, Georgia was so amazed that someone finally paid attention to its work that it had to write a whole story about itself to brag about how many webpage hits it got on a recent story by staffer Lily Gordon.

The L-E was all excited that it got "more than 1,000 comments" and received "712,251 page views" after Gordon's July 14 story headlined, "Soldier balks at deploying; says Obama isn’t president."

It became obvious Tuesday morning that the story, published on page A3 of that day’s newspaper, had taken on a life of its own.

Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tuesday, there were 62,140 unique yearly visitors — or users who had not clicked on the site in the previous 12 months — to the newspaper’s Web site, said Jeff Hendrickson, the Ledger-Enquirer’s senior editor for new media. During the same hour a week earlier, had 864 unique yearly visitors.

By the end of the day, nearly a half million new readers had visited the newspaper’s Web site. Also, there were 712,251 page views — more than seven times a normal daily volume.

Yes, that is quite a lot of hits, to be sure. But is it news? Is a story about how many hits a story received actual news?

I guess I can understand the L-E's excitement. After all, the first time I got a Drudge-alanche giving me nearly 200,000 in a two-day period, I was agog as the page counter whirred along. But did I write a big story about getting so many hits? Did I do it when it happened the second time or all the other times? No. Well... I did mention it here just now, but, you know what I mean.

What I am saying is that this story about its avalanche of hits is not news. It's good news for them, of course, but it isn't news that will enlighten the readers and keep them informed. But this does show that the Old Media is completely flummoxed by the New. The story is a waste of time, of course, but that it made the L-E so amazed, amazed enough that it reported on how amazed it was, well that is news in and of itself. It just shows that many in the Old Media just don't understand the Internet age.

After all, if the folks at the Ledger-Enquirer really had a grasp of the ins and outs of the Internet, a Drudge hit would not be so amazing to them. They would realize that pages that get 100,000 hits a day are plentiful, that Drudge can make a story go viral, that the Internet is the means that often drives the news these days. That these facts were unknown enough to the folks at the L-E that when introduced to them for the first time they felt the need to write a whole story about it all is pretty revealing of the naiveté at the paper. It would be as if the L-E just realized that men walked on the moon and wrote a story about the grandeur of it all.

Yes, this all goes to show that too many in the Old Media just don't "get" the new age in which we live and it tends to prove why papers are disappearing all over the country.