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War Blows Up Web Traffic

The war has sent people scrambling to the Internet for information, community, and expression. It is not a little ironic and troubling that the worst of times for the real world is the best of times for the media, including the new media of the Internet. News sites have been doubled and trebled their normal traffic, especially during work hours when poeple may not have access to the television for updates:

    The number of people visiting the Web’s top news sites and a dozen federal sites ran at more than twice the usual rate Thursday, according to ComScore Media Metrix.

    A Marines Corps site (www.marines.com) experienced the biggest spike, up 411 percent, to 30,534, visitors, ComScore reported.

    The at-work audience reached 36.5 million people on Wednesday, almost matching the home audience of 37.1 million. Overall at-work traffic jumped 16 percent, while at-home traffic rose only 1 percent, ComScore reported.

    “Without a doubt, people are glued to their Web browsers for virtually minute-by-minute updates of the war as it unfolds,” said Daniel E. Hess, vice president of ComScore.

    It’s hard to measure overall traffic online, given that the Internet is a network of networks and not centrally managed. But one firm that distributes and manages traffic for more than 1,000 of the Internet’s largest sites said the volume of data it moved reached an all-time high Thursday.

    Akamai Technologies Inc. served 24.8 billion “hits,” or requests for Web page elements, Thursday, roughly twice its average of a month ago, said spokesman Jeff Young. The data suggest people were using the Internet more intensely this week by calling up far more pages, he said.

    Yahoo.com was among the places where usage skyrocketed — the volume of traffic to its news section jumped 600 percent on Thursday and again Friday, said spokeswoman Sabrina Friedman. She said the amount of free audio and video that users chose to view rose tenfold.

    Some of the largest traffic increases occurred at the Web counterparts to the broadcast and cable television networks, a fact Hess attributed partly to TV networks promoting their Web sites. Hess said the data suggest people are moving from watching their favorite networks on TV at home to viewing them on the Web once they get to work.

    “The two media are playing tag team with each other,” Hess said.

    Among TV networks, FoxNews.com saw the biggest jump, up 218 percent Thursday over its average traffic for the past four weeks, ComScore found. CBSNews.com was next, with an increase of 207 percent; followed by CNN.com, up 200 percent. On Thursday, CNN.com had the most traffic of all the news sites: 9 million visitors. MSNBC.com was next, with 6.8 million. [Washington Post]

Although we are a “media” site not necessarily associated with war coverage, we have had feverish pro and con debate all over the site, and our war-popular culture axis posts on the Dixie Chicks, Charlie Daniels, Michael Moore and the Oscars have been picked up by numerous sites across the political and thematic spectrum. Just in the last 60 hours we have seen 50,000 unique visitors to Blogcritics, more than five times our normal traffic over hte same period. Of course, massive links from Jan Herman (grooving off of the MSNBC traffic bounty) and Glenn Reynolds and being saluted by Forbes haven’t hurt a bit.

“War blogging” has come to mean something more than just writing about the war this time around – now correspondents are blogging from the field:

    L.T. Smash provided a terse after-action report on one close encounter with the Iraqis:

    “Saddam fired a couple of those Scuds that he doesn’t have at me this afternoon.

    “He missed.”

    No need for embedded reporters when you’ve got a keyboard and a modem. “Smash” is the pseudonym of a military officer who is chronicling his exploits amid the desert sandstorms — and getting 6,000 hits a day on his Web site.

    For all the saturation coverage of the invasion of Iraq, this has become the first true Internet war, with journalists, analysts, soldiers, a British lawmaker, an Iraqi exile and a Baghdad resident using the medium’s lightning speed to cut through the fog of war. The result is idiosyncratic, passionate and often profane, with the sort of intimacy and attitude that are all but impossible in newspapers and on television.

writes Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post. He also spoke to Glenn:

    “The most interesting thing about the blog coverage is how far ahead it is of the mainstream media,” says University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, whose InstaPundit.com site has seen a surge in traffic as the Iraq crisis has heated up, doubling to 200,000 hits a day. “The first-hand stuff is great. It’s unfiltered and unspun. That doesn’t mean it’s unbiased. But people feel like they know where the bias is coming from. You don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to find a hidden agenda.”

We mentioned last week that CNN reporter Kevin Sites was blogging from Iraq – Kurtz reports that CNN has shut him down:

    “What I’m looking at right now is long line of trucks packed with all kinds of belongings of Kurdish people moving north,” he writes. CNN told Sites to suspend the blog Friday, with spokeswoman Edna Johnson saying that covering war “is a full-time job and we’ve asked Kevin to concentrate only on that for the time being.”

Sagacious blogger and longtime MAJOR MEDIA FIGURE in good standing Jeff Jarvis calls CNN foolish:

    I’m a big media executive type — in a suit, even — and I have to say that this is short-sighted on CNN’s part.
    I have no idea what CNN’s problem is. I can imagine a few scenarios — e.g., some editor worries that Sites won’t do his work (he’s in a warzone; what else is he going to do?) or some editor worries that they’re not editing what he writes (if you don’t trust him, don’t hire him).
    Bottom line is that CNN proves it is out-of-date.
    MSNBC has weblogs.
    FoxNews has weblogs.
    My big media company has weblogs. Knight Ridder has weblogs. USA Today has weblogs. The BBC has weblogs.
    But CNN doesn’t.
    CNN is not only disrespecting Sites, it is disrespecting his audience, and it is disrespecting bloggers as a whole — which is a mistake, since we, fellow bloggers, are now influencers

Yeah, tell it Jeff. Yo mama, CNN.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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