Pioneer Press, MPR might be getting Star Tribune’s web traffic

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.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Bill Roehl on 12/07/2011 - 10:07 am.

    I stopped reading the majority of their stories online (I am a Sunday subscriber for coupons) and I won’t link to them anymore from my site.

    Honestly, since the paywall went up, the quality of stories showing up in their http://startribune.com/local/south RSS feed are being way outclassed by even the South Metro weeklies. That’s even more sad than the paywall IMO.

  2. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 12/07/2011 - 11:03 am.

    Since the paywall went up, I quite going to the Star Trib web site and now go to TwinCities.com. The effect is real.

  3. Submitted by Jason Walker on 12/07/2011 - 11:11 am.

    MPR’s site hits are probably up partly because they finally changed the URL from the ultra-confusing “mprnewsq” thing. How confusing that was!

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/07/2011 - 11:17 am.

    I’d pay for content, but I refuse to grant them permission to access my bank account for automatic renewal.

    The Pioneer Press is just fine.

  5. Submitted by Tim McNeill on 12/07/2011 - 11:44 am.

    When the Star Tib counts C.J. as one of my 15 stories, I move on…Enough said!!

  6. Submitted by Adam Minter on 12/07/2011 - 09:58 pm.

    I subscribed to the digital edition, and I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. I don’t live in the Twin Cities, anymore, but I like to keep up on the local and especially sports news. If your only options for MN sports news are online, then the Strib is the leader by a wide margin. I’d probably pay the digital fee for just that. But since I’m on the Strib’s site, anyway, I go from Sports and poke around some of the other sections. I might go to MPR if someone I follow on twitter sends me that way. But it never occurs to me to go to the PiPress site.

    I’m probably not representative of many digital subscribers, but I can’t be the only person who sees content as worth paying for. In addition to the Strib, I “contribute” to MinnPost, the Wall Street Journal, the NYT, and the South China Morning Post, too – because they are very good at what they do. This “I’m not reading it because the owners think it’s worth something” attitude is just childish.

  7. Submitted by John Reinan on 12/08/2011 - 09:23 am.

    Bravo, Adam! A refreshing and, unfortunately, somewhat unusual sentiment.

  8. Submitted by Matt Brillhart on 12/11/2011 - 07:16 pm.

    I am ashamed to admit this, but if the Strib put their comments section behind the pay wall, they would probably gain me as a subscriber. On the plus side, the quality of the comments would likely rise by several magnitudes. In fact, the only thing I like about TwinCities.com (PiPress) is that commenters are required to use their real names, by logging in via Facebook. Aside from that, TwinCities.com is downright awful. From the pop-up ads to the page layout that looks at least 10 years old, their website is just terrible. Strib has a much more modern and intuitive layout, while actually managing to look somewhat like a newspaper.

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