Tuesday, I passed on some Star Tribune web stats from metering’s first month: visitors down 10 percent, page views down 15 percent. I left it open whether the Pioneer Press (via twincities.com) and MPR are seeing traffic bumps from those who hit the pay wall.
With the proviso that one month does not conclusive evidence make, the PiPress might be. Managing editor Chris Clonts says November page views were up 14 percent and visitors up 12 percent.
“It’s difficult to tell if the extra traffic is completely due to the paywall effect,” Clonts allows. “We do know this: We’ve had many, many users contact us via e-mail, phone and social media telling us that they’re now loyal users of TwinCities.com because we’re the better value. This has been really encouraging to us, and we’re grateful to have them. And some of the changes we have in store for the site in 2012 should make them glad they switched.”
If everything breaks right, readers could see a fuller-throated clash of philosophies in 2012. The Strib fortified by a paid digital subscriber base, up against the PiPress, which is now run by John Paton, a free-web, social-network, crowd-sourcing devotee. The Strib will still have a sizable staff advantage, and the PiPress will likely continue to focus on its core Ramsey-Dakota-Washington counties, but if each side can enhance its digital newsgathering, citizens win.
Meanwhile, MPRNews.org‘s November traffic was up 5 percent, according to spokesman Bill Gray. (He didn’t specify page views or visits.) For comparison, November 2010 traffic was up 21 percent — but that was an election year. November 2009 traffic was down 23 percent. Gray says it’ll probably take a few more months of results before anyone can attempt conclusions.