News Sites Have Record Month

Osama bin Laden and animal slide shows add up to a popularity boom

May was a banner month for Internet news site traffic, WWD reported. According to their internal Omniture stats, news sites Slate (15.8 million unique visitors), The Atlantic (10 million), The New Yorker (3.7 million), Foreign Policy (2.9 million), and The Week (1.86 million) all reported their highest readership ever in May 2011.

Foreign Policy editor Susan Glasser pointed to the revolutions in the Middle East and the death of Osama bin Laden as the main sources of traffic for the month. The site’s most popular article was a slide show of war dogs, including the one involved in the bin Laden raid—it got 8.2 million page views, more than the entire site got last May. (Slate’s most popular feature that month was a parody called “The Cats of War.”) Bob Cohn, editorial director of Atlantic Digital, said that his site’s traffic was due in large part to the high volume of articles it put out in the 24 hours following the bin Laden news.

There were other factors at work in getting the record numbers, too. Slate editor David Plotz also said that the calendar itself played a part, since “May had a lot of weekdays in it,” he said. And Steven Kotok, president of The Week, said that his site’s popularity had nothing to do with world affairs, just “intelligent opinion curation.”