This was my busiest blogging year ever.
I’m quite sure my 247 posts this year (well, 248 now) are my most ever in a single year. I had my highest traffic ever for a single day (April 6) and in April and October I set records for a single month. In fact, seven months in 2012 exceeded the single-month record I set in December 2011.
My best-read 2012 post (by more than 2,000 views) was my letter to newsroom curmudgeons, published April 6, the day I set that single-day record with 4,882 views. I’m not sure what that says about newsrooms or curmudgeons or my blog. But I hope it helped some curmudgeons find some comfort and be more productive in their newsrooms. With more than 9,000 views, it’s my fourth most-read blog post of all time. And the other three have had far longer to accumulate views. I think it got more views faster than anything I’ve ever blogged.
I touched on similar themes — advising journalists on thriving in journalism’s turbulent, changing times — in a couple other 2012 blog posts: one on trying to recapture the joy of journalism and one telling angry journalists that bitterness is like wreaking revenge on yourself. I addressed some of the same themes in keynote addresses to press associations in Pennsylvania and Arizona that also worked well as blog posts. Though none of those posts resonated the way the curmudgeon post did, each received more than 1,000 views.
Social media remains a popular topic with people who read my blog. My second most-read post tried to help newsrooms figure out how to engage better from branded Facebook pages after Facebook adjusted its algorithm, making it harder for our posts to appear in our followers’ news feeds. That got nearly 7,000 views. A couple of other posts about Facebook topped 800 views — one noting that Bill Keller wrote about it without understanding it and one clarifying whether newsrooms are allowed to post Associated Press photos on Facebook or other social media (we’re not).
As usual, I blogged more about Twitter than any other topic. I started a series in July that I called #twutorial, providing specific advice for journalists on how to use Twitter. The first piece in that series, on using advanced search, and later pieces answering a question about how Twitter is valuable to journalists and advising journalists how and what to tweet were among my top 10 posts of 2012 in page views. I haven’t posted a new installment in the series since late October, but I also haven’t finished it yet. I have two or three more topics I plan to take up in 2013, so look for it to resume shortly. Thanks to Alexis Grant, Menachem Wecker, Jaclyn Schiff and Deanna Utroske for guest posts in the series. (And if you’d like to offer a guest post about a specific Twitter technique for journalists, please let me know.)
Continuing with other social media, I blogged several times about Pinterest this year. My tips for journalists and newsrooms on using Pinterest had more than 3,000 views and my post about the Pottstown Mercury’s wanted-poster Pinboard got more than 4,000. Both were among my top 10 2012 posts in views.
My tips on curation also got more than 3,000 views and aggregation tips got over 1,500. Several other posts advising journalists on dealing with changes in journalism topped 1,000 views: copy editing (a top-10 post that drew a response from John McIntyre), gatekeeping, linking and beatblogging. In the same vein, Tim McGuire’s post about what he believes about journalism prompted a post on my core beliefs.
As usual, I blogged a few times about the news business debate about paywalls. A December post ridiculing the suggestion that anyone has won this debate was one of my 10 most-viewed posts of the year. But finally I had enough and swore off the paywall debate (giving myself an out if Digital First makes a significant move regarding paywalls that I think I should address).
Paywalls aren’t the only news-biz issue I blog about. When C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell and Clay Shirky produced their Post-Industrial Journalism report, I blogged three different responses. When Clayton Christensen shared some advice with the newspaper industry, I noted that he had done that six years earlier in the Newspaper Next project and most ignored or responded only cautiously.
The Christensen post prompted me to re-post some old posts from my days working in Newspaper Next, about databases, non-consumers, transformation, pay phones, opportunities in upheaval, re-educating our gut reactions and learning about jobs to be done.
I plan eventually to re-post nearly all my old posts from my Training Tracks blog, which have disappeared from the American Press Institute and No Train, No Gain websites. This year, in addition to all those N2 posts, I re-posted old posts about getting started in social media, getting started in Twitter, getting up to speed on social media, outbound links, embracing digital tools and overcoming obstacles.
That piece on obstacles came as part of an update on Iqbal Tamimi, a journalist who inspired me in 2005 and again this year when I heard from her son. He designed the blog header you see above. It returns today (more about the header I used in its absence shortly).
Another post I pulled out of the archive was a salute to Bob Steele, which I revived to accompany a post on Bob’s guiding principles for the journalist. Journalism ethics remain a regular topic here. I blogged about Bob after sharing my suggestions for new guiding principles, which I posted after participating in (and blogging about) a Poynter Institute forum to discuss journalism ethics in the digital age. I also blogged about whether to name mass murderers, the use of the term alleged victim, about a plagiarism quiz I developed to teach proper attribution to journalists, about a plagiarism “summit” I am participating in, sharing stories with sources before publication (that prompted a re-post of an old workshop handout), transparency, expressing opinions in social media and multiple posts on confidential sources (including another from the Training Tracks archive).
I blogged a lot about the work of my Digital First colleagues. Some of the posts that drew the most attention (beyond the wanted-poster piece) were about the Denver Post’s use of Twitter to cover the Aurora theater massacre, about our new engagement editors, Valentine’s Day engagement and engagement over the utterance of the word vagina in a legislative debate. I also blogged about new community newsroom projects in California, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. I also continued a series launched in 2011 about the work of Digital First newsrooms, advising how statehouse reporters and reporters on any beat should work. And yesterday’s post about beat coverage really continues that discussion, too.
I blogged observations about some journalism conventions I attended (the American Society of News Editors and Online News Association) and even one I didn’t attend (Associated Press Managing Editors). My tweets from the ASNE panel with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on the 40th anniversary of Watergate were so plentiful Twitter cut me off, so I blogged and tweeted my plea to get whitelisted, a request that was granted during ONA.
I continued my occasional posts about job-hunting and career advancement, with posts on showcasing your digital work and on career lessons from Digital First colleagues Mandy Jenkins and Randi Shaffer and former TBD colleague Daniel Victor.
My 2012 traffic shows the value of keeping archived content available (and the value of search traffic). The top 10 posts for the year actually included three posts from 2011, about the 5 W’s of business (that one gets crazy search traffic and was actually my top post of the year), revenue ideas for the news business and how a Digital First journalist should work. Five other posts from previous years topped 2,000 views each this year.
While I blog here mostly about journalism and the changing news business, I did blog several times about my nephew Brandon’s death in Afghanistan: about the return of his body to Dover Air Force Base, the week of his funeral, a cheeseburger salute the day his unit returned to Fort Lewis and about handling media coverage of a loved one’s death. The photo below, of flags honoring Brandon at the Shenandoah cemetery, became my blog header for a few weeks.
I indulged in a few other personal posts here: When Mimi published her first novel, Gathering String, I blogged about some writing lessons from her experience. On our anniversary, I asked in a poll why readers thought she married me (it was the glasses, my readers said). On Mother’s Day, I noted how Mimi and Mom shaped my career.
Usually when I posted personal reflections, I try to relate them to journalism, as I did this year in reflections on getting fired 20 years ago, on the Iowa caucuses I covered through the years, on the demise of the American Press Institute and on the 30th anniversary of the death of the Des Moines Tribune (thanks to Arnie Garson for another guest post sharing his lessons from the Trib’s life and death and to other colleagues who shared their memories). I should note that traffic is usually light when I blog personal reflections.
I got through the election year with scant political comment here, though I did blog that I thought the Iowa caucuses had hogged their spot at the front of the line too long a piece The Atlantic asked to repost. The Atlantic also made my 1983 Iowa Caucus Game board its picture of the day.
I should note that this is just one of five blogs where I contribute regularly. I blog about baseball (the Yankees mostly) on Hated Yankees, about travel (with Mimi) on 2 Roads Diverged (our personal yearend letter is posted there) and I help Mimi promote her novel on a Gathering String blog. I also am one of many contributors to the Inside Thunderdome blog, where I wrote about our DFMies awards and opinion journalism. I also was a guest contributor this year to the Nieman Lab.
WordPress automatically generates an annual report for bloggers. If you’ve made it this far, you might actually care:
Here’s an excerpt:
About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 310,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 6 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!