LA Times Memo: Disasters, Homicides = Big Hits!


Another fascinating memo to the troops down on Spring Street:


It’s official–we had a steady and slow summer for Web traffic. August remained flat against June and July with 72 million page views for the month. That’s up 19% over this time last year, so the bigger picture continues to show a growing site.

We did a light redesign of our articles in August. Notable differences include bigger photos, bigger headlines and a cleaned-up page. Here’s an example of the old article design, and here’s the new. Why did we do it? To make the articles easier to read, more visually dynamic, less busy. Here’s some more food for thought: While the single most viewed page on the site is the homepage (it gets roughly about a third of the total traffic), the majority of our traffic enters the site on our article pages via Google and other search engines and sites, bypassing the homepage entirely. This is common among many big news sites. It leads to the following Web mantra: Every page is our homepage. More improvements to the article page design are coming, all in the spirit of making our article pages more dynamic, usable, conversational.

The Minnesota bridge collapse, the Utah miners’ story, and the Peru earthquake were the big breaking and hard news stories for the month–you’ll see photo galleries and video from those stories on the lists below.

The Homicide Map was launched at the beginning of the month, bolting the Homicide Report blog to the top of the most read blogs, beating out the Lakers. At the end of August we launched a USC blog, All Things Trojan, which is already getting good traffic. A new high school sports blog, Varsity Times, is a good example of how we can use smart voices to go beyond reporting stats and tell brief, local stories with lots of links to other sites. Sports is the most-visited section on the site–as we head into the fall look for more visibility for that section.

What else to watch out for in September: A redesigned Image section and a new blog, timed to match the launch of the print section going weekly. Environment and education blogs. More original video as Barbara Morrow beefs up the video team, and improvements to our video player. More news updates and other good things as the Web deputies get churning. More links and comments in our articles. More news on Web hiring to come as we post job descriptions for multimedia specialists, database journalists, an email newsletter producer, a mobile editor, and other positions.

Top Articles for August

1. Clinton’s first-lady records locked up (linked to from the DrudgeReport)

2. Google Maps redraw the realm of privacy

3. A teenage girl, a terrible injury, and a will to recover

4. A rush to pull out cash

5. Say, has the butler cleaned the trout yet?

6. Newscaster suspended over affair

7. Clinton’s first-lady records locked up (appears on the list twice b/c the article was duplicated on the site)

8. Bedbugs tuck into Southland

9. Jennifer Lopez to El Cantante critics: “This is the truth”

10. It came from outer space

Top Blogs

1. Homicide Report – 327,714 page views (up from 166,838 in July)

2. Lakers – 241,288

3. Top of the Ticket – 211,485 (up from 95,264 in July)

4. L.A. Land

5. Show Tracker

6. Gold Derby

7. Styles & Scenes

8. Spector Trial

9. Movable Buffet (Vegas)

10. What’s Bruin

Top Photo Galleries

1. Minnesota bridge collapse

2. Celebrity shots

3. Hurricane Dean

4. N/A (data not available)

5. Notable deaths

6. Hollywood thin then and now

7. ’80s action stars: Where are they now?

8. Beyond the swimming pool

9. Casting kudos and catastrophes

10. Mayoral relationship

Top Video

1. The Proof (clip of a “flying saucer” to go with David Sarno’s YouTube/UFO story)–LAT

2. Homegrown terrorism – AP

3. LA Times live video from KTLA

4. 4.5 earthquake in Peru – AP

5. Glamping: Roughin’ it the easy way – LAT (really nice original travel video from Myung Chun in photo)

6. Hundreds dead after earthquake in Peru – CNN

7. Mattel sues over XXX Barbie website – AP

8. Minneapolis bridge collapses into Miss. River – AP

9. Dr. Lucy Jones, chief scientist, preparing for the Big One – KTLA

10. Steve McQueen’s Ferrari Lusso for sale – LAT