USAT’s May traffic growth lags most sites, NYT says

The number of unique visitors surfing USA Today‘s website rose just 6.4% last month from May 2006 — the smallest increase among 15 top news sites, The New York Times says, in a story about slow growth at Google News. “In fact,” a Gannett Blog reader notes, “the only slower growth was Hearst Newspapers Digital (ugh).”

USA Today‘s growth also lagged Gannett’s papers overall, which saw visitors rise 17.1%, the NYT says in a graphic, based on Nielsen Online data. “What does this mean?” my reader asked in an e-mail. “When is someone going to cast a critical eye on the USAT website and acknowledge how terrible it is? If you are looking for something on the site, it is just about impossible to find. And no one in USAT management allows any questioning of the decisions that the web team makes. They are the top dogs. It is certainly not a site you can look to for news. Yet, the USAT website is considered untouchable. Maybe these numbers would cause someone to take a look at the decisionmaking. They certainly should.”

Among all Gannett and non-Gannett news websites, which do you like the most — and why? Post a note in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: a recent screenshot of USAT‘s homepage]

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3 Responses to “USAT’s May traffic growth lags most sites, NYT says”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    In reply to: “When is someone going to cast a critical eye on the USAT website and acknowledge how terrible it is? …And no one in USAT management allows any questioning of the decisions that the web team makes. They are the top dogs.”

    As a member of the “Web team,” I assure you that plenty of us — though not all — recognize how terrible it is. And some of us welcome critical analysis of the decisions being made. But there is cognitive dissonance at the top, to be sure.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    This is just great. Did I read that Jeff Webber is now been demoted to manage the USAToday.com? Do you actually think he will turn the unique visitor problem around?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett management is in a mode where newsroom staffers are not permitted to question anything regarding the web site or the newspaper or the way they are going about merging the two. Upper management pretends to be inclusive, but it’s mostly lip service and smoke screens. The meetings and other communications between the top dogs and worker ants at USA TODAY is nothing more than window dressing to make employees feel part of the decision-making process. Newsroom management at USA TODAY in particular is sadly transparent, phony and clearly on a collision course that will not only severely injure the print product, but will cause the web site to meander into being an insignificant online entity. The bureaucracy that often diluted the newspaper has now doubled with the merging of online and print staffs. The simplest things now take a dozen committee meetings. What was really needed was a streamlined process instead of adding more layers to every task. And what results from those countless meetings is not only late in getting to market, but the decisions and policies are often wrong. The online people appear to be bright and ambitious to change old ways within the newsroom, but also are somewhat alienating and even arrgogant in their approach. They have not learned from the lessons of the past and therefore are probably condemned to repeat many mistakes made by print managers in years gone by. There are smiles on the surface, and a lot of anger and worry down below on both sides. The web site is lagging, the newspaper is being propped up by overworked print staffers. Well, some are overworked. The ones who never did much of anything are still leading the country club life. The merger has been a fiasco. Throwing a bunch of rats and mice into an overcrowded cage and telling them to work it out isn’t the best way to approach a merger. Yet, in at least one of the newsroom departments, that was about the extent of the plan to bring people together. Not a good recipe for innovative thought, solid morale or building unity. Undoubtedly, USA TODAY top editors will continue to hand out meaningless prizes and free food to try to boost morale and productivity. They’ll hold “training” sessions that will educate no one. Ask any newsroom employee about the all-day online merger session last year. Right then and there it was obvious this was a newspaper and web site that were in trouble. Was this parade of uninspired speakers suppose to motivate people? Expect more of the same from the same cast of characters. And don’t be surprised to see the flagship sink further.

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