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Star Tribune’s ‘Your Voices’: how much traffic?

The Strib’s community of citizen writers doesn’t grab a lot of eyeballs, at least for now, but even if it’s a little earnest, it’s still a worthwhile experiment.
By David Brauer

While it’s usually too earnest for me, the Star Tribune’s “Your Voices” section is a worthwhile attempt to present new viewpoints to the state’s biggest news site. In a piece for Poynter Online, Strib managing editor for operations Duchesne Drew says traffic is growing: from 121,000 page views in February to 210,000 last month.

That’s still pretty small within startribune.com’s monthly universe of 90-million or so — hell, City Pages says it gets half a million for its Blotter newblog — but it’s a decent start. Word is another Strib section that recently got a citizen facelift, Outdoors, quadrupled its page views this fishing opener compared to last year’s.

I’ll always root for the Strib to overcome its institutional deflavorizer that has toned down columnists elsewhere in the paper. Online editor Rhonda Prast has at least worked hard to establish a rainbow coalition, even if 425 Portland’s gravity inevitably pulls it toward establishment types.

Free content does have its disadvantages; one of the more potentially interesting “hires,” rapper Maria Isa, has updated just four times since December, according to her bio page.

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I’d encourage Your Voices bloggers to write shorter and punchier and have more fun — and take more risks — though I’ll admit the odds of that are long. In lieu of leopard spot-changing, I’m at least glad to see folks I know like Lea B. Olsen work it out on the page, and it’s fun to get Doogie Wolfson‘s post-KFAN takes.

So keep experimenting. I’ll hope against hope the Strib will let its free help break more china, make more noise, and discover the voices that might some day get them paid.