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Mar-19-2009 07:25printcomments

How Does Salem-News.com Compare With Oregon Online Media?

We're movin' on up...and the numbers prove it!

Salem-News.com
Salem-News.com's Tim King at a state capitol anti-war demonstration last weekend. Photo: Q Madp IraqWarHeroes.org

(SALEM, Ore.) - When we started Salem-News.com almost five years ago, I sensed the potential of a great media movement that was about to take place Online, and sure enough it is now underway.

I had an idea then that our strictly Web-based news organization could serve the needs of people here very effectively by providing the latest news and empowering the people of Salem, who live in the shadow of our metropolis neighbor to the north.

Salem is a great place, and its need to have current information is extremely important. I was raised in a big city, but ended up living on the Oregon coast with my wife Bonnie in the early years of our careers in media. I think anyone who lives in a small Oregon town sees Salem as a big city the way we in Salem see Portland as a big city.

Again, people on the coast are just as important as people here, and truthfully they are even more overlooked by Portland media than we are.

While I have lamented that lack of coverage in the past, the argument now falls to the wayside as the economy spirals affecting not just newspaper, but also local and national TV news. Salem and other places that receive minimal coverage are at least an hour from the Portland stations and there are only so many news crews and so much time in the day.

But these are all reasons that Internet news is finally being looked at as a stand-alone product. Online news need not be the bi-product of another entity; just "another" way for a newspaper, television station or radio station, to offer its news and promotions for the day.

Our news team has embraced the Internet since 2004 and as we grew and improved, we watched the same thing happen on YouTube where video quality has improved significantly, and through fantastic services like yousendit.com that allow a person to actually email a file up to 100 MB. That technology is how I sent all of my video reports from the war in Iraq back to Oregon for publication last summer.

But while those sites, Craigslist and MySpace and other social networking sites have flourished, only a handful at best of local Internet news sites have been launched. Salem-News.com is considered a "pure play" website, not a subsidiary of another, larger body. That makes us unique.

A Blog is a Blog is a Blog.

The Blogosphere is another confusing point, along with the frequently heard term "citizen journalist".

A Blog is a Website that features content, usually generated by a well-known group, and allows people to state their feelings about it in an ongoing discussion "thread". Writers can create their own blog pages as well, offshoots of the main blog.

The term blog came from "web log", appropriately so. Some blogs feature original content generated by amateurs to professionals from all walks of life, their talents landing every where on the scale. Most blogs are templates, customizeable, and many are very professionally managed as in the case of eatsalem.com, meeting a high standard of content and credibility.

Still, a blog is not a news site. It's a blog.

Citizen journalists are not reporters, but they do offer excellent "eyes in the field" for newsrooms. These involved individuals increasingly send in tips, information and often photographs to newsrooms that are essential keys in telling a complete story. They are not, however, professional journalists.

Their participation will continue to gain popularity, with us and other sites, as citizens broaden the scope of coverage for an area. We encourage input from the public, and appreciate their staying in touch with us from all points of the region. Still, we expect that other media outlets will follow us in our mandatory policy regarding official journalist submissions.

Ranking You Can See and Believe

It appears that in some cases, the wrong people have been steering the direction of Internet news. One example is when a newspaper holds off publishing a story on the Internet, presumably because they want to break it in the actual paper. Who can blame them? Recently they seem to have learned that the Internet is an unforgiving conveyor of information and there is no sense in holding things back any longer.

Every Internet story isn't breaking news, so we, like other media, often launch a morning lineup bright and early. That allows our stories to often rank high on Google News and also gives our viewers something fresh to begin their day with.

One of the ways advertisers gauge Websites is by checking the site's ranking on a Web evaluator, like Alexa.com. This non-subscription site allows all of us an equal look at what sites are getting visitors and which ones are not. It shows indications of growth and the most valuable feature, in our book, is the option to show the comparison of different Websites, side by side.

In the bigger picture, Portland media outlets get the larger numbers, but that is logical when you consider the audience size. The Portland area has around two million people; I think the greater Salem area has around 250 thousand.

Oregonlive.com (Oregonian) is at the top of the Portland Internet lineup, and the television stations there do very well also. KGW.com has a highly rated site and they have won awards from the Associated Press for those accomplishments. KATU.com, the site for Portland's ABC station, is also doing very well. Though it isn't included in the figures below, Portland's FOX station, KPTV.com, is next in line. They are getting a bigger audience than Salem-News.com, but trailing the two above mentioned stations.

The surprise to me is that we are coming in well above Portland's CBS station; KOIN.com. They aren't a flatline in the Alexa figures, but their visitor count is low.

TV stations are the least challenged of the big media outlets in the conversion to Web, and they aren't the industry that is shutting down their conventional operations and going all-Internet.

The latest newspaper casualty to make the headlines is the Seattle Post Intelligencer; they are all Online now and their last paper was published Tuesday. 145 years after its inception, the physical paper is no more.

TV news departments already have people shooting, editing, and reporting in the video format. It is easy for them to create Websites that look great and honestly, it is not a big chore to convert TV news copy to a written report.

Keeping the News Product Strong and Saleable

Newspapers resisted the Internet in many ways. It wasn't long ago when local sales associates for newspaper were offering an Internet ad as a "bonus" or "added value" if the advertiser bought space in the paper. Radio stations followed suit. This is a habit they may find hard to break.

De-valuing thier online product cheapened the whole idea of Internet advertising in the Salem area and our up-and-coming company felt the pinch from it, I'm pretty sure. I suspect that talk has likely died down as our brothers in the press watch operations close and fold. I think it will be almost all Internet soon and we have to get behind that idea and help with the creation of new media jobs that can absorb the ranks of unemployed and soon to be unemployed.

In comparison to local media in the Willamette Valley, the numbers show very well for Salem-News.com. Graphs below show that we are now running neck and neck and possibly just ahead of the historic Statesman Journal newspaper in terms of reach, and another online Salem publication, willamettelive.com, is showing narrowly.

The Website for Albany's newspaper, democratherald.com, is receiving a noteworthy number of visitors, while the Dallas paper's site, itemizerobserver.com, is seeing comparatively little traffic. The Democrat Herald has days that appear to exceed our visitor count, and they are also seeing numbers competitive with the Statesman Journal.

There is so much to know and so much to learn when it comes to the Internet and the effective use of it as a tool for the delivery of news and quality advertising. We are glad to have the support of our advertisers and we appreciate the long-term commitment they have to us. Forward thinkers, they knew something good when they saw it. And now they have been rewarded with the numbers. Because Salem-News.com is highly ranked across the Web, simply advertising with us (even a small ad) greatly affects our clients' Website ranking. More people means more income and that has never been more important.

"Your success is our success," Publisher Bonnie King says. "We are so happy to be a part of this growth industry and bring our own vision to fruition. It's very satisfying to hear positive reviews from our advertisers. They know what works. And we're just starting to get our momentum."

For more information, please email: adsales@salem-news.com

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Daniel March 20, 2009 5:35 pm (Pacific time)

Tim i do not fully understand the numbers in the charts , could you give a numeric breakdown . Whats does .003 mean in terms of viewers . Thanks

Tim King: Dan, good question.  I had many more charts but they took up a lot of space and ended up narrowing it down.  What I can tell you is that .003 equates to around 10,000 unique visitors a day and 30,000 page views a day.  That is not a direct correlation, but it is how it ends up.  I believe the specific answer is the percentage of actual Internet viewers in the world.  Therefore accordingly, 10,000 people equates to about three one-thousandths of a percent of the World's total Web visits.   


Henry Ruark March 20, 2009 10:59 am (Pacific time)

DJ: Driving shaping-factor here is wit, wisdom, will of the American public, esp. "middle class". Citizen responsibility to be well informed may guide these millions through wide, wild world of diversity --surely fine attribute for democracy-- with ever-broader information sources, wisely used, shaping what has been proven reliable and effective understandings-and-attitude builder for over 200 years. People are wiser, better able to cope, guided by more reliable sources now, than ever before. We must guard and guarantee that will continue. Dialog, decently conducted via protection from malign abuse, is among most potent and most widely accessed of all elements now, via Internet and print and broadcast, all of which play essential roles and must be preserved, each extended and strengthened, if we are to survive, grow, and become what America can achieve. We CAN preserve democratic society, with best tool always more democracy, wisely applied to problems such as malign distortion/perversion of our essential channels for learning from each other's life experiences.


DJ March 20, 2009 9:22 am (Pacific time)

All one has to do is see how well different sites are doing and then see what type of news reporting they are offering. For example is it far left, center/right or far right, etc. There are many models out there to measure, and the trend is pretty obvious. Please note the many outlets from newsprint, radio and television that have failed or have had their market audience diminished. The advertiser not only looks at audience size, but most importantly other factors such as will they buy their products/services. The internet is no different as per advertiser concerns. Of course if we no longer have a free society, then it will simply be propaganda. Think Radio Free Europe which took on the communist/socialist propaganda. Hopefully this doesn't happen here, because there is no one else but us around to expose the propagandists.


Daniel March 19, 2009 9:55 pm (Pacific time)

Chris why start your own site, you have plenty of posts on this site expressing your views. Its a lot less work and more potential readers than on a new chrisjones- news site . Jane sounds like the itemizer Observer paper product is the quicker picker upper, the new bounty .


Henry Ruark March 19, 2009 8:21 pm (Pacific time)

CJ: Again,sir, big talk-no action. Yours with libertarian lean dead before first issue, on basis of your comments here indicating any possibility of sensitive, sensible, serious understandings of both issues and ethics of journalism. Push ahead rapidly --will enjoy debacle intensely, since yours here indicates you can afford deep frustrations, at least monetarily. BTW, you will surelyneed some professional-quality Edit-page worker, since it is obvious you are unable to produce such on simple demand as per invitations here.


chris jones March 19, 2009 10:43 am (Pacific time)

This is inspiring me to start my own salem news site to cover an alternate view (leaning more towards a libertarian angle, rather than radical leftist)on political and economic issues, as well as the legislative chicanery going on under the gold man. Excellent work Tim! I agree salem gets little representation from the oregon news outlets.


jimmy March 19, 2009 4:22 pm (Pacific time)

PRINT IS DEAD! You guys hit it head on 5 years ago!


Daniel March 19, 2009 12:52 pm (Pacific time)

Tim your web site is becoming an all in one with printed and video stories . When are you starting the daily news cast ? The printed media can not compete with the web for breaking stories , who wants to buy yesterdays news ? The broadcast news is having a hard time competing with the web news because the web has both video and printed information giving a much more in depth view plus reader input . Interactive TV is finally coming to the WEB not broadcast ! I think fox news thinks interactive TV is running two stories at once , one the video the others as a constant distracting banner on the bottom third . Its like having two people talk into different ears at the same time telling different stories . As the web matures and the quality improves sites such as the salem-news will dominate the market !

Tim King: Daniel, that is very nice of you, I appreciate it.  We have a new studio but we are still putting the finishing touches on and getting the equipment together and sync'd.  You made me laugh with the fox news interactive TV explanation; bravo!  I will update everyone soon on our expanded video products that are coming soon, thanks again. 


Courtney March 19, 2009 11:55 am (Pacific time)

I only use the Internet for news now but I like newspapers when I have the time. Glad you're here.


Anonymous March 19, 2009 10:05 am (Pacific time)

Glad and not surprised that Salem-News.com is doing so well. You guys really move the stories out and I assume it isn't easy to keep so much content in front of people.  Please keep reporting on our environment!


Jane March 19, 2009 8:40 am (Pacific time)

Not realistic for you to have the Itemizer Observer up there as Polk County is still behind in the internet usage. Their paper product is much stronger than ever.

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