Should they pay more attention to the Web?

In a recent entry on Gawker, the question of “why won’t alt-weeklies try to win on the Internet?” was raised. In their example, they compared the Web traffic of the Washington Post‘s site against that of Washington City Paper‘s site. Granted, the Washington Post, and the New York Times for that matter, are internationally-recognized papers and I doubt anyone thinks the alt-weekly papers in those cities would be able to compete head-on.

However, if you look at versus the online versions of Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury, you’ll see that statistic holds true here as well.


It’s an interesting dilemma. In visiting the Willamette Week or the Portland Mercury‘s sites, most of the highlighted content is pulled from the print edition and thus only updated weekly, while their Web-only content is not given prominence or you have to click to access it. They’re training readers to only visit their site once or twice a week.

Is the lack of funding an issue? Sure, but shouldn’t there be ways around that? (Says the girl writing for free on this blog.) For example, Willamette Week recently redesigned their logo and some components of their site, but why not spend some of those funds getting resources for writers who can contribute Web-only features, interviews and other items?

12 Comments so far

  1. tODD (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 10:46 am

    I hadn’t heard of Quantcast before today, but I’d say that there’s lies, damn lies, and statistics. And well below that, there’s Web statistics. Quantcast’s numbers here (except the WW ones) rely on a self-selecting “panel”, I believe, and as such are far from guaranteed. For a look at stats from an equally self-selected group, you can view Alexa’s stats at — you’ll note things don’t look quite so grim for the alt-weeklies there.

    Even though we can’t truly assess the Web traffic of these sites, I think it’d be interesting to compare their share of Web users with their relative print circulations — after all, I think most people tend to think of all of these sites as adjunct versions of the print edition. That’s probably changing, but the only reason I even knew existed was because I picked up a paper. I’d venture a guess that most people read their local online news at the site of the offline source they trust the most.

    Myself, I long ago gave up on the WWeek’s attempt at a Web presence (their RSS feed makes me sad). And I only read OregonLive when someone links to it or I’m desperate. I do read the Mercury’s Blogtown — in fact, I haven’t picked up a paper or even visited their site’s front page in a long time, so I was surprised to see that Blogtown really doesn’t get a lot of homepage love. Huh.

    I still find that Blogtown occasionally has some really great news, but like all things Mercury, it’s overwhelmed by meaningless drivel. They’ll never be taken seriously because they don’t want to be taken seriously.

  2. Steve (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 11:24 am

    These stats for wweek and o-live look accurate based on my experience.

    I can assess traffic on vs. based on traffic links to my site get from those sites. (My site is linked from the blogroll, and has been linked from a cover story and a number wwire items.)

    When I’m linked from the front page of, my site gets slammed. I’ve had nearly 300 referrals from oregonlive today (and it’s not even noon). I doubt I’ve had 300 referrals total from, and I’ve been linked there for months. (My experience with the Tribune is about the same as, i.e. low traffic.)

    The funny thing to me is that oregonlive sucks so hard on so many levels, but the Willy Week site is actually pretty decent.

  3. James (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 11:34 am is a freaking joke of content news provider and simply a horrible designed web site.

  4. Matt Davis (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

    You fucking moron. Lumping the Willamette Week’s website in with the Mercury’s is like shitting in your groceries.

    Blogtown, you fuck. Blog-fucking-town.

    It’s going to take me all fucking afternoon to calm down now.

    You bastard.

  5. Matt Davis (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

    Sorry about that. But how else am I supposed to respond?


    Sorry again.


  6. Random Citizen (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    Matt, thanks for stopping by and skirting the issue.

  7. Matt Davis (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    You can email me at to apologize. Or better still, send chocolates and flowers: 605 ne 21st Ave.

  8. Matt Davis (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 2:44 pm


  9. Matt Davis (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

    [leaving website. promising not to comment again.]

    [still crying.]

  10. Matt Davis (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

    Sorry. I’m a little sensitive today.

  11. Steve (unregistered) on December 12th, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

    Matt, if it’s any consolation, “Blog-fucking-town” is infinitely hipper than WWire (which basically means you don’t have to wade through pages and pages of vapid pop culture fluff to find real news on WWire).

    I think the point is that as much as everybody purports to hate oregonlive, it’s orders of magnitude more popular than any of the “alt” news Web sites. Like it or not, wweek and blog-fucking-town are lumped together in the cellar compared to the O.

    Which is why guys like Davis like to pimp their stuff on Oregon Reddit. They, like me, probably double (or more) their traffic when their stories hit the front page of oregonlive.

  12. Matt Davis (unregistered) on December 14th, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

    Quadruple. Quintuple.


    The Oregonian ate my baby.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.