UK Newspapers And Their ‘Dirty Little Secret’

A follow-up to yesterday’s piece on the most recent ABCe traffic numbers. In figures released for August, there was a uniform trend downward. On one level it can be explained away by a summertime dip, but I remain sceptical.

Now the people over at paidContent have provided another useful graph which seems to indicate that the big traffic growth of the last few years may be tailing off.

As they point out:

Save for June’s blip, news site traffic has been largely at a standstill since the New Year.

According to their own analysis, Mail Online,,, Sun Online, Times Online, Mirror Group and combined only have 469,517 more users now than they did in January.

Not terrible, but not stellar.

Perhaps a traffic standstill is coming with the plateauing of broadband take-up?

Could this be online newspapers’ “dirty little secret”, they ask. In a month, we should know.

 – Why UK Newspapers Miss The Beijing Bump


links for 2009-09-25

Why UK Newspapers Miss The Beijing Bump

A brief glance at the graph below shows alarming commonality among the performance of UK newspapers online – decline.

The people at collate the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s monthly ABCe traffic data to offer this useful trend line.



One plausible explanation is that audiences always fall during August when much of the country disappears on holiday at some point in the month. It manifests itself in a number of ways in print – trade publications often drop an issue or two while hard news gives way to the silly season inside the nationals.

But I’m not sure the silly season effect has ever been fully proven online. Anecdotally, all the web titles I’ve been involved in have seen traffic hold up well over the summer.

Unfortunately, a direct comparison with 2008 doesn’t shed much light.

Thirteen months ago most digital papers were enjoying a Beijing bump. The Olympic Games – coupled with a war in Georgia that made the season anything but silly – were at the heart of some pretty impressive month-to-month increases.

Most notable were the Guardian (unique users up 12%) and the Telegraph (up 18% and through the 20 million barrier for the first time). Intriguingly, the Mail Online – the clear king of the web in 2009 – suffered a 7% decline.

No such worry a year on, especially with headlines like this.

Is This The Ultimate Daily Mail Headline?

The headline below doesn’t come from one of those Daily Mail headline random generators. Rather it featured in the real paper earlier this week. The online version, meanwhile, is true to the print original down to the upcapped “HAVE” .

It’s such a perfect example of its form that it is causing waves on the other side of the Atlantic. Cory Doctrow of the crazily popular Boing Boing (tagline: A Directory of Wonderful Things) is responsible for the rather blurry image below.  


 – The Express Fiddles While The Mail Earns
 – One Of The Best Photo Captions Ever
Daily Mail Ends Moderation. Will Anybody Notice?

What Has The Web Ever Done For Us?

journalism-of-courage-noneckThe ‘us’ in the question above is journalists and, by extension, consumers of journalism. And the answer – despite an apparently busted business model and significant job losses – is, actually, quite a lot.

In my latest column for, I suggest that the web has reinvented the form, that news journalism is in one of its most creative periods ever.

And I propose five innovations that would not have been possible without the internet. In no particular order they are:

1. Interactive infographics

2. Crowdsourcing

3. The podcast

4. Over-by-over commentaries (yes, really)

5. The blog

I’m pretty sure that’s not the end of the list, so help me write the next five.

You can read the full article here: Five innovations in news journalism, thanks to the web

(Picture credit: noneck)

links for 2009-09-23

Gill Breaks Obit Code, Flambés Floyd

aa-gill-on-keith-floydLike our constitution, the media code for dealing with the recently departed is unwritten but it can be simply put – if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

With the possible exception of dealing with serial killers and despots, it is a convention tightly observed. Sometimes it’s easy to be nice – nobody appears to have a bad word to say about Sir Bobby Robson, as Matt Dickinson noted in the Times yesterday.

On other occassions it’s more troublesome. Take Jade Goody, who was treated with derision by the papers for much of her public life. Nevertheless, the period either side of her passing was like a tabloid love-in.

With all that in mind, let me take you to AA Gill’s television column in The Sunday Times.

Gill goes on to acknowledge that Keith Floyd “changed the way food and cookery were presented on the screen”. But not before these two opening paragraphs:

Tonight Keith Floyd sleeps with the fishes. I can’t in all honesty say that I’ll miss him. I was once sent to interview Keith in the south of Spain, where he’d retired: one of his many retirements, all hurt and self-pityish, to escape from the ravages of unions, socialists, philistines, do-gooders, traffic wardens, political correctness, immigrants, critics and sober bores who had apparently taken over Great Britain, the country he loved except for everything it did and everyone in it.

I found him in one of those sorry expat Costa del Sol pubs at 10.30am, necking pints, leaning on a bar with half a dozen hacking, pasty-faced, nicotine-fingered taxi drivers and nightclub bouncers, flicking through The Sun while complaining about the football and the price of Marmite. Four hours later I left him slumped and insensible in an armchair, his sweet young wife apologising with a well-practised, half-hearted boredom as she tried to get him off the soft furnishings before his bladder gave up.