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Datablog

98 hours of coverage

Two weeks ago the number of page views on Redbrick’s website jumped from receiving one pageview every 190 seconds to 2.2 pageviews a second. An increase of 42,100% in the space of an hour. Perhaps more surprising is that the hits were not just from local readers, the audience became more international.

This post isn’t supposed to be a self congratulatory ‘we got a lot of hits’ (although, we did). The important point is that a relatively small website can enter the spotlight very, very quickly and on a global scale.

How big of an increase is 42,100%?

In short, big. Which you can tell pretty much immediately when looking at a timescale of pageviews.

Its worth taking a few lines here to explain some of this graph. Firstly, during the first night there were more sustained pageviews that the following three nights. This would suggest that most people in the UK stayed up to see the coverage or that the audience was from around the world and hence awake. Secondly, the second and third days probably indicates that most readers where expecting further riots as the number pageviews where fairly high throughout the daylight hours.

The size of the jump is made even more clear when you look at the first 21 datapoints with an adjusted horizontal axis. This gives out a line that, in contrast to the same datapoints in the previous graph, is anything but flat.

Pageviews from August the 8th prior to the start of coverage

Further more, throughout of the rest of the coverage there is not a single point where there is such a significant change in pageviews. The next graph cuts off the main datapoint in order to make the other changes in page views more clear.

I added the pageviews to give a greater sense of time on the graph, though I have lowered their numerical values so that they could fit on the scale. (They are less than 0.03% of their actual size if you where to use the axis as a reference).

The next graph doesn’t cut off that data point, which puts the size into proper context. To put it simply, there isn’t a single point which even comes close to that initial jump.

Where the 42,100% came from

Mostly from the UK which saw 105680 pageviews from the 8th to the 12th of August, followed by the US which had 979 pageviews. Yet the reach of the website increased further. Redbrick does usually receive a few hits from many countries throughout the world, though they are normally no more than one hit and most of those don’t stay on the website for much longer than a few seconds. During the riot coverage that changed.

These only include countries with more than 5 hits.

There were more hits in Eastern Europe, South East Asia, China, India, South American and Africa. The size of that difference is better shown by the next graph.

This shows the top 20 nations by pageviews during the two different time periods

How did it happen?

The most common argument I’ve seen is that nationals and other big publications failed to cover the Birmingham riots as well as they perhaps should have. That doesn’t explain the speed by which it occurred though. I think that was a testament to some of the tools that are now available on the net, things like Google and Twitter were key for us (search engines and referral sites were responsible for 93% of traffic during coverage, pushing direct references from 10% to almost 5%). Such numbers probably wouldn’t have been possible for an organization as small Redbrick 10 years ago.

Short of luck though, a part of it was that the coverage was actually good. That the average time spent on the website increased is a further testament to that. A diverse handful of people are to thank for that, from Redbrick’s online editor Chris Hutchinson who started up the live feed, Dave Glenwright, who was not particularly affiliated to Redbrick prior to the coverage, to previous editor’s of Redbrick including Samuel Lear and Nick Petrie (This only names a few of the contributors, check out the coverage to find the full list of contributors).

Redbrick’s success certainly wasn’t unique, Sangat TV was another notable success story along with many other small organizations working with equally small budgets. That just goes to show how much easier it now is to make an impact in todays world of journalism.

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