In it I profiled all the Montana political blogs.
Now, 3 months later, we’ll look at those blogs again.
Here are how the Alexa rankings have changed since we first profiled the sites 3 months ago.
What this number is showing is the rank in the US for that site.
For comparison’s sake, here are the world’s top sites. Alright, let’s get started:
- Billings Gazette: 8,501
- Missoulian: 9,813
- Great Falls Tribune: 23,118
- Helena IR: 24,673
- Montana Standard: 30,267
- Flathead Beacon: 47,584
- Last Best News: 96,848
- MT Cowturd: 114,942
- Missoula Current: 411,697
- Big Sky Words: 447,075
- Intelligent Discontent: 679,152
- Flathead Memo: 697,039
- Montana Free Press: 7,161,245 (world ranking)
- Reptile Dysfunction: 25,243,789 (world ranking)
- Logicosity: Not enough data to provide ranking
Now, how do those numbers compare to the numbers the site’s were getting 3 months ago?
I didn’t profile the state newspapers back then, but for the blogs we know changes have been like so:
- Missoula Current: A 97,000 rank improvement
- Last Best News: A 20,000 rank improvement
- MT Cowturd: A 12,000 rank drop
- Big Sky Words: A 125,000 rank drop
- Intelligent Discontent: A 137,000 rank drop
- Flathead Memo: A 178,000 rank drop
- Montana Free Press: A 4 million rank drop
- Logicosity: Fell out of the rankings completely
You can look at the original Alexa rankings I compiled on May 27 if you’d like.
Overall, wow – what a drop for most sites…including my own!
What accounts for those drops, and what accounts for the improvements that Missoula Current and Last Best News have seen?
Personally, I find both Ed Kemmick and Martin Kidston’s reporting to be lackluster and boring.
Clearly others do not agree.
In fact, earlier today I mentioned that to Kemmick in the post he put up.
I can’t help but think this is the main reason he got a hundred more likes than usual on that article.
Mainly, I worry.
I worry that too many think reporters like Kemmick are really great when in reality, they’re failing us miserably.
We decry the state of Montana’s media – or lack thereof – but we often give a pass to blogs that aren’t really giving us good content.
That said, if the state media is failing so badly…how come they continue to get so much internet traffic?
I guess you can say they’re the only game in town, so what else is there…but we do have the TV stations that give us free content.
Still, the Yellowstone News will be closing down in a week or so, yet another small town newspaper that people didn’t feel the need for anymore.
Most of the time Facebook gets the blame for this, at least these days. It seems people want to curate their own news from their own sources, and many times those sources aren’t the newspapers.
We can use Facebook to determine popularity as well.
For instance, here are the like counts for the last 10 posts that went up on Last Best News:
That last one is August 15’s post about the Billings City Council, the first today’s post where I admonished Kemmick for being so boring.
What can we learn from the counters on other sites?
If we head over to Reptile Dysfunction we see that there is no Facebook counter, but there is an overall site hit counter.
What we learn from this is that 68,795 people have visited the site since it started in June 2015.
That comes out to about 4,600 people a month…if they’re indeed all unique users.
If we head over to Intelligent Discontent we have to go to social media shares, and we get these number of likes for the past 10 posts:
The big one there was a post about Zinke and Fort Harrison.
For the life of me I can’t understand why this site continues to link to articles from 2008 and 2011 and 2012 at the end of each new post.
When it comes to Missoula Current there are no social media numbers to go off of, and James Conner doesn’t believe in that at Flathead Memo, nor does he believe in letting people comment on his posts.
For Cowturd we get the following likes on their previous posts
So that site gets quite the bit of loving from Facebook.
Who are all those people liking the content? I really have no idea, but since the site’s been operating for years, I guess it’s got a following built up.
When it comes to Big Sky Words we get the following for Facebook likes on the previous posts:
Clearly, no one gives a fuck about my content when it comes to Facebook.
So what does this all mean?
To me it says that former reporters do the best when it comes to Montana blogging, at least when it comes to the rankings.
Perhaps the content excels as well, as why would people be visiting?
We can also say that those two sites in particular are doing so well because of a fall-off in local reporting when it comes to Missoula and Billings.
All in all, it should be viable for Montana newspaper reporters to jump ship and start their own online ventures…at least when it comes to traffic.
What about funding?
We continually see Kidston asking for $50 and in Billings they’re not shy about their need for fundraising to stay going.
Missoula Current and Last Best News, however, both have local businesses buying up ad space.
I wonder if this is what accounts for their rankings - continuous links from other established business sites.
Still, they have to ask their readers for money.
In other words, the sites aren’t making money on their own.
I only make about $75 a month from advertising on this site, and that’s all from Google AdSense.
So clearly I’m not doing this for the money, and most Montana blogs will say the same.
Who is doing it for the money are the state newspapers, and boy are they failing at it!
More and more we see copy-paste jobs from other media sources, AP filling in the gaps, and tons of local sports and foreign travel posts.
When it comes to politics, economics, and social issues, readers are left wanting.
So they go to the blogs or social media or just do without.
I feel the vast majority just do without, not worrying about what’s happening in their own backyard.
That should really come as no surprise as many people don’t even talk to their neighbors anymore, and we sure don’t do community get-togethers or social club organizations.
People mostly stick to themselves these days, and that plays havoc on the social cohesion necessary for a vibrant and viable community.
I encourage you to read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam to get some good numbers on how far our society has fallen in this regard from a generation or two ago.
But few read anymore, and our state newspapers will be quick to point that out.
Seems many aren’t reading the blogs either, as most of them are seeing drops.
Perhaps that’s summer, a time when people travel and get away from it all.
Or it could be a long-term trend that’s here to stay.
If people have no problem getting ‘news’ from Facebook, what do they need ‘real’ media for?
Most of the time, they don’t feel they need it.
A Final Note
I’m leaving my computer at home, and no, I don’t use a smart phone.
So…no new posts for a bit…maybe longer.
We’ll see what happens when I get back.