Monthly Archives: April 2011

Weekly Report: Humbled by traffic; official class enrollment to-date

Two alumni of Mizzou football made major draft headlines when Aldon Smith and Blaine Gabbert were both selected in the top 10 draft picks in the first round.

We tasked ourselves with being one of the first to get up a post and pair it with a tweet. I had a skeleton of the Blaine Gabbert story ready to go, and once they made the official announcement I added in a couple team-specific details, posted and tweeted.

Nine people read the story. I’ve posted out of focus pictures that generate more traffic than that on their first day in circulation. Another contributor wrote up a post about Aldon Smith, who shocked just about everybody by being selected ahead of Gabbert by the team most believed coveted a good young quarterback, and that post drummed up a bit more interest, but still struggled in relative terms. At first glance, this really bothered me. Upon further reflection, the dirth makes sense.

Consider how our least read text stories tend to be same-night game recaps . While game nights and the day immediately following tend to spike, we usually have between three and five posts. Our instant game recaps are news most people already know, and so was the draft. Beyond the final score, or in this case the draft position of Smith and Gabbert, the average fan or reader doesn’t necessarily want or need a long form explanation and analysis.

Either that or I really need to work on SEO. We have zero search engine referrers today, an unusual occurrence for the site. Perhaps a reworking of the bland “Former Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert picked 10th by Jacksonville with 10th overrall pick” is in order.

In other news, we have precisely five people signed up for the class so far. Our most recent applicant is a strat comm major, which we did not intentionally disregard but nevertheless overlooked. It’s an exciting cross-platform thought. It’s all journalism, right?

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Weekly Report: Senioritis

I mentioned the great success the site enjoyed when we began posting every day in an earlier post. Now, as one of our journalists prepares for the leap to the Huffington Post and another maintains a Comcast Sports Net blog for pay, and I prepare for finals and my final semester, our posting quota has swept itself into the recesses of our subconscious. The traffic has responded in kind, although the valleys around days without posts are higher than they were before the implementation of our quota, which in a certain light seems to represent progress.

The deadline for a topics course passed before our team had a chance to fulfill the required criteria, so our class next semester will officially be an independent study taught by Karen Mitchell. At last count, four people had signed up after she sent out a listserv email. We require at least one newsroom class, and Karen really wants to weave some by-trade photojournalists into the fold.

I’ll leave you with the rough outline of our syllabus up to this point in the semester. Karen, as the teacher of the class, worries about the syllabus tailoring itself too much to the sustainability of KBIA Sports, at the possible expense of academia. (Syllabus crafted by JJ Stankevitz, to be honed in conjunction with the rest of us)

Weekly Report: Official absorption and a passing of the torch

The biggest piece of news from our week: our absorption into KBIA.org is imminent, said KBIA Membership Coordinator Shannon Watkins to be possible by the end of the semester or the end of the summer, depending on how the present group of “admins” (those of us contributing to the site, from founder JJ Stankevitz to editor Karen Mitchell and director Darren Hellwege) decide to proceed.

Upon further research, I discovered absorption can be done in three steps, which would require about 20 minutes of logistical change-over such as the individual URL change, a new banner with KBIA Sports as opposed to KBIA Sports Extra, and establishing for the first time different levels of involvement for contributors as opposed to editors. We must decide on a structure of the site for next semester that manages who can post stories straight to the site, and who can only edit and must obtain approval. We still hope to have graduate involvement to solve the editing quandary, but if that does not happen, the focus group in attendance this week (Darren, Shannon, Karen) believes there still must be a division between the first draft of students work and an AP-checked story without errors, grammatical or otherwise. This semester, our team has utilized an editing-by-committee model. We all have “administrator” status on the site, so we can fix minute errors we see in stories as we see them.

In my mind, the ideal solution is different posting accounts for different beats next semester. Reporters could include a byline at the top of their stories, as Darren does now, but the posting entity would only be visible as “KBIA Sports Mens Basketball,” for example. An editing person, ideally a graduate editor, would have this access, while individual reporters may only write a story/post a photo gallery or video to “Pending Approval,” to be approved and posted by the editor. ¬†For news that must break immediately, a “KBIA Sports Breaking News” account could be used by anyone, and posts could be edited and updated on the fly as they are in other newsrooms.

With the elimination of the “wordpress” portion of the web address, KBIA will also want to switch up the look of the site slightly, with four or five displayed stories cycling through as they do on the KBIA.org homepage now. The theme we have now may have that capability, but we have not found out how to insert it simply as of yet.

We found help files that detail the conversion of an existing blog to a subdomain of an existing website and the assigning of editing/admin roles and capabilities.

To me, this process seems simple enough for us to make the change almost immediately. The site as it appears now would fit with the general brand of KBIA enough as we feel out method of story display and other nit-picky details. The issue of posting capability has not actually surfaced as a major problem up to this point in the semester, and even if it arose in the immediate future, the assignment of the aforementioned roles and capabilities can be changed at any time. Shannon wants to retain the template we utilize for the site now, with that story display tweak added.

She said she just has to sit down and feel it out. In an ideal world, maybe we could be on KBIA.org before our final presentation in two weeks.