Network News: October 29 – November 4

StateImpact Election Coverage Shoots And Scores

We saw our web traffic grow by more than 50 percent over the past month. That’s right: 50 percent. And a lot of that was because readers liked it and shared it with their friends. A whopping 64 percent more traffic came through social media in October than September–or just about any other month since our founding.

This can be attributed in part to interest in the election, yes. But it is also due in no small part to our reporters’ ability to keep their coverage tightly focused on state election questions.

Our strategy going into the election was to let NPR and others focus on the presidential race while we played to our niches. We set out to own selected down-ballot races. Oklahoma, Florida, Idaho and New Hampshire covered several key ballot measures; Ohio tackled state school board races and school levies; and Indiana focused on their state school superintendent race.

We followed the races closely tied to our beats and analyzed their implications. We set up explanatory topic pages related to each race or ballot measure. And we took care to make those pages SEO-friendly. Last week, as voters got Googling for information on their state-level races, it was these side-door topic pages where they found what they were looking for.  (See below for the week’s top traffic draws.)

The headline for this week is that we have largely succeeded in our goal to be the clearest source of information for state voters on these low-profile but important policy questions. For those who still haven’t made up their minds on the marquee races, there’s no shortage of places for them to go to educate themselves. But when it comes to SQ 766 in Oklahoma or Ohio’s District 5 State Board of Education race, we are it. We talk a lot about StateImpact “filing the void” that vanishing local outlets are leaving behind. That’s exactly what we are doing–and doing extremely well–with our election coverage. Nice job, folks!

Last Week’s Reader Faves

Most visited stories last week, in raw numbers:

  1. Oklahoma2012 Ballot Questions
  2. OhioIssue 2
  3. IdahoPropositions 1 2 3
  4. TexasThe Science Behind Hurricane Sandy: Climate Change or Freak Storm?
  5. IndianaGlenda Ritz

Most visited content on each site, in order of popularity:

What does that mean? Well, we took the top post from each of your states, according to traffic. We adjusted those figures to reflect each state’s population and then ordered the results.

  1. IdahoPropositions 1 2 3
  2. Oklahoma2012 Ballot Questions
  3. Ohio: Issue 2
  4. Indiana: Glenda Ritz
  5. New HampshireElection 2012
  6. TexasThe Science Behind Hurricane Sandy: Climate Change or Freak Storm?
  7. Florida: Explaining Florida Amendment 3: Tougher State Spending Limits
  8. PennsylvaniaWhat To Do If Sandy Knocks Your Power Out

StateImpact Idaho gets big cheers this week for punching above their weight for the THIRD week in a row with their comprehensive and search-friendly guide to Idaho’s education referendum. 

Traffic Sources (according to Google Analytics):

  • 67% Search Engines (top terms for this week: issue 2; glenda ritz; idaho prop 1 2 3; florida amendment 3)
  • 15% Dark social (emails, listservs, instant messaging, etc.)
  • 7% Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit–in that order this week)
  • 9% Referral (Google, Texas Tribune, NPR.org, Google News, KOSU–in that order this week–plus station websites and other partners and sites)
  • 1% Direct (bookmarks and direct visIts to home pages)

Around the Network

Last week:

  • Getting national traction isn’t just for broadcast anymore. This week, both Joe Wertz of StateImpact Oklahoma and Ida Lieszkovszky of StateImpact Ohio published stories on It’s All Politics, NPR’s premiere political blog. Both reporters developed versions of StateImpact stories in a tone that would appeal to a national audience and, in doing so, helped promote their own work and that of StateImpact.
  • Yan Lu worked her infographic magic this week in a data-driven project conceived of and reported by StateImpact New Hampshire’s Emily Corwin. Emily took  the rallying cry of the Romney campaign, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  broke it down into various metrics with -to-digest charts and graphs. The project allowed the DC team to experiment with skinny infographics, which we love because of how easy they are to view on mobile devices. It also allowed us all to freshen up on best practices in data visualization and see how such graphics fare on social media. Emily’s drew lots of conversation,  which she highlighted in a follow-up Storify. All in all, time well spent.

This week:

  • Chris Swope and Jessica Pupovac will be headed to Oklahoma on Sunday for a editorial plotting and planning.
  • Life will supposedly go back to normal. (What will we all talk about?!?) Keep us posted.

Until then,

Chris Swope, Jessica Pupovac, Ken Rudin & Becky Lettenberger

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