Read the memo

LA Times editors happy with February traffic -- thanks to Dorner

latentrance.jpgJimmy Orr, the managing editor for digital at the Los Angeles Times, praises the staff in a memo regaling the biggest month yet for the Times website — and biggest traffic day for the LA Now news blog. Coverage of the Christopher Dorner pursuit was the big draw. Orr admits that the paper milked traffic by posting and tweeting early and often — he credits an "assertive digital strategy used to cover the event." Same for the Oscars and Grammys: "26 staffers tweeted about -- and from -- the Oscar ceremony."

Here's what Orr said in his memo to the newsroom:

By the Numbers

What a month. Great journalism and smart strategies for digital coverage continued in February, resulting in the biggest audience in the history of the site.

We also recorded a 125% increase in video viewership, and L.A. Now and Entertainment set all-time records.

Breaking News

Nobody does breaking news better than the Los Angeles Times, and this was never more apparent than in our coverage of the manhunt for Christopher Dorner and his standoff with police.

The 24-7 approach, led by Shelby Grad and Kimi Yoshino, made the Los Angeles Times the go-to site through aggressive digital storytelling and exclusive reporting that our competitors chased for days. The L.A. Now team blogged like crazy, but it was the original reporting that really stood out. Our crime reporters tapped their sources with extraordinary results, getting the insider accounts and frequent updates that pushed our coverage far ahead of the competition.

That combined with live streaming video, rapid-fire homepage Twitter updates and frequent live chats made it unmistakable to readers -- new visitors as well as loyal readers -- that we owned the story.

And the traffic bears that out:

-- L.A. Now recorded its highest monthly traffic with more than 19.7 million pages read, beating the previous record by more than 5 million.
-- L.A. Now recorded its best traffic day ever with 3.8 million pages read, besting its previous highest total by 1.4 million.

Yes, it was a big story that generated a lot of interest online. But we never would have drawn such a large audience to the L.A. Times website -- or kept people reading once they arrived -- without the assertive digital strategy used to cover the event. The frequent posts maintained the L.A. Times presence on the Web, making our hard work visible to the huge number of people searching for Dorner news. The blog averaged more than 50 posts per day, peaking at 62 at the height of the event.

We also made strides in audience engagement. Our live interactive videos brought reporters closer to the readers, with dozens of video chats. One live video discussion with Andrew Blankstein, Kate Mather and Michelle Maltais was viewed more than 400,000 times.


The Entertainment team followed a similar digital strategy in covering the Grammys and the Oscars, resulting in the highest monthly traffic total -- by far -- in the history of the Entertainment section.

We knew going in that we wanted to provide a “second-screen” experience of real value. And we did it by providing great live content for visitors to read, interact with and watch during the broadcast.

Readers responded.

More than 52 million pages were read in Entertainment in February. Powered by the live, breaking coverage of the awards shows, Movies Now, Pop & Hiss and Ministry of Gossip all recorded record months. The Image blog All the Rage also hit an all-time high.

Traffic during the two-day stretch of Grammys coverage (the night of the awards and the day after) increased by more than 95% over 2012 with more than 8 million pages read.

Our audience during the two-day stretch of Oscars coverage increased by nearly 200% over 2012 with about 18.5 million pages read.


How’d they do it? Expertise coupled with surgical planning. They carefully plotted what they would post and when and the best content with which to augment the stories -- including behind-the-scenes photo galleries, exclusive video and insiders’ views that no one else had.

As with L.A. Now’s successful push, the blogging was superb, and the original reporting pulled in a big number of readers.

The hard work done by the music, movies and digital production groups leading up to these marquee award shows paid off. And our strategy of collecting that work on curated hub pages and Oscar Watch made a significant difference. This year, we had a tremendous presence on Google search -- when readers typed into their browsers “Oscars 2013,” the L.A. Times ranked high in search results -- on the first page and, at times, as the very top choice. That visibility fed our viewership. And once readers entered our site, they stayed far longer than is typical, finding more to read on every post.

The efforts in search were supported by a social media push (26 staffers tweeted about -- and from -- the Oscar ceremony, for example, leading to a 38% increase in pages read from Twitter and Facebook over 2012). Amy Kaufman gets a shout-out for tweeting 97 times during the event and including 38 Instagram photos in the tweets.

Our real-time ballot tracker reported the news of who won before the winners even made it to the stage. And the live video commentary from film critic Kenny Turan and staff reporter Robin Abcarian provided levity and insight during the commercial breaks.

Simply put: We owned the awards.


Finally, we have an experimental team assisting on our Hero Complex blog. First month out of the gate, they set all kinds of records, including:

1. 66% growth rate in Twitter followers.
2. Most-visited month in the history of the site (double the previous high).
3. Monthly uniques were more than four times the average.
4. Monthly page views were more than three times the average.
5. Most-visited day in the history of the site (more than twice the previous high).
6. Tripled the average posting per month (154).
7. 79% growth in Facebook followers.

Now, the tale of the tape...

Top 10 most-read blogs

L.A. Now
Movies Now
Ministry of Gossip
All the Rage
Pop & Hiss
Hero Complex
Nation Now
Show Tracker
Sports Now

Top 10 most-read stories

Christopher Dorner in gun battle with authorities, source says 959k
Women delivering newspapers in Torrance shot in manhunt for ex-cop 793k
Nicolaus Copernicus’ 540th birthday: a man who questioned the rules 495k
Dorner manhunt: Charred human remains found in burned cabin 464k
Dorner may have been hiding in plain sight near command center 440k
10 things you should know about Sony’s new console
Oakland rapper ‘Kenny Clutch’ killed in Las Vegas Strip shooting 425k
Christopher Dorner held couple hostage in cabin, source says 351k
PlayStation 4: Sony promises ‘personalized gaming’ 350k
Police seeking Dorner opened fire in second case of mistaken identity 350k

Top 5 most-viewed interactive videos

Latest on the Dorner manhunt 402k
Search for Christopher Dorner 172k
Christopher Dorner’s body identified 60k
Wearable technology 54k
Grammys recap 33k

Jimmy Orr
Managing Editor, Digital
Los Angeles Times

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