As The Beagle approaches its six month anniversary it is a perfect time to say thank you to our readers, our advertisers and our donors who have been so supportive with their encouragement and generosity. We launched on November 1st 2016 with just a handful of stories that spanned "Latest News", some "Arts", some Council media releases and some Tuross Head town news. Six months later we now have just over 2000 stories and articles spread across the website from Community news and events to Food, from Sports to Politics infilled with Arts, What's On, books, music, Letters and photography. Across the Beagle website each of the headers are now gaining their own solid following. The Beagle Letters and Opinions pages are attracting a wide audience and a very colourful collection of commenters. From the time we installed a comment facility there has been a steady climb of participation by both contributors and readers. (We can measure by count of comments, as per the following graph and by the increased numbers of readers enjoying the comments that are tracked elsewhere).
Above: The Disqus stats for number of comments per day on The Beagle. Number of comment views are not recorded by Disqus. Votes are if a reader like a comment - rarely used.
Beagle readers have been intrigued by the Readers and Page Reads statistics displayed at the bottom of the website footer and have been following the steady growth in readership since these figures were first put up.
Above: Today's stats covering the last 30 days
The Beagle has a tracker that enables us to see how many users we have (we prefer to call them readers). In the above figures it refers to Users. We have set Users as being unique visitors to the website who may have had one or more sessions over various lengths of time (the length of time here is 30 days). As can be seen above there are 10,587 unique users recorded as having visited the Beagle website in the last 30 days. When you read the Beagle it identifies you (your phone, tablet or computer) by a unique number. It doesn't know who you are but the analysing software can tell if your are reading on a computer, a tablet or phone and can even tell what brand phone or tablet a reader has. When asked how many readers we have that read the Beagle EVERY day the results are most encouraging with just under 2,500 readers per week who visit the Beagle EVERY day. Many Beagle readers visit once or twice a week and those who subscribe to our weekly Editor's Choice mailout receive a reminder each week to catch up on the latest news of the week before.
Above: Our average readership is just under 2,500 readers per week who visit the Beagle EVERY day We are also able to track how many returning visitors we have and how many are New Visitors. New visitors to the website increase when the Beagle editor extricates himself from his office and presents to community groups. Numbers of new visitors also increase following a radio interview or if there are news spikes when a poor soul is found drowned and there is an immediate desire from the community to be kept informed. The Eurobodalla Senior Computer Users (EuroSCUG) group were fascinated to see, during a recent presentation by the Beagle editor, and learn that it was also possible to identify where readers were accessing The Beagle from. Unlike newspaper publications an online newspaper such as The Beagle can be read anywhere in the world at any time. The EuroSCUG members were surprised to learn that many who read the Beagle are outside of the Shire, on holiday, working away, non-resident home owners, those who once lived here and those who one day shall.
Above: salute to Phillip holidaying in Egypt and reading today's Editors Choice.
These statistics are important as they provide feedback to let us know who our audience is and what they like and what pages they visit and how often. The figures are also important to the businesses that advertise with us so that they can assess the exposure their advertising might have. Many are beginning to ask how the Beagle compares in readership with other local newspapers. From the Fairfax media Centre the Statistics for the Bay Post indicate a 3,627 Average Issue Readership with the note: Publishers statement February, 2017. Readership based on circulation – calculated at 3.3 readers per copy. The low numbers reported for Bay Post newspaper sales might be because it has now focused on it's online presence with a subscriber news site, fed by its Facebook and Social Media feed. With 9000 plus followers in on their Face book page they have the advantage of exposure compared to the meager 1300 followers of The Beagle Facebook page however the extent of reach of Beagle stories via its Facebook page is encouraging. Parallels exist between the Fairfax newspapers and The Beagle - we all receive the same Media Releases from the Federal members, State members and Council - we all receive the same Publicity Officer mail outs from sporting clubs, community organisations and we even receive the same letters to the editors on occasion. The Beagle makes ALL of these freely available as it considers all of these have importance to someone, especially those who are putting on an event or wishing to inform or engage the community. These articles that have been made freely available should be, in our opinion, freely available to the community. After just six months readers are learning that they are able to access all bulk of news being media releases, on-line for free rather than following a link to a subscriber paywall. Outside of providing an outlet for the wider community to inform and be informed the Beagle enjoys looking behind the scenes, turning over rocks and discovering and reporting on stories and issues that all too often go untold. And that is what makes the difference between each of our South Coast news sources - the extent of unique focus that each applies to the bigger issues in the community after having passed on the Latest News and the community notices.
Above: The current Beagle Facebook stats which are steadily rising as well It is encouraging to see that the Narooma News has a 6,798 Average Issue Readership (Source: Statistics for the Narooma News Publishers statement February, 2017. Readership based on circulation – calculated at 3.3 readers per copy)
It is more than satisfying to see the marked increase in readership of the Beagle Letters and Opinions pages that are providing an opportunity for open discussions of key Council issues. It also gives distinct pleasure to be able to openly display our readership numbers and celebrate what we have achieved in just under six months, especially in light of such comments from a councillor regarding the Letters and Opinions saying "No one reads that crap". We now understand that even officers in the Department of Local Government are reading The Beagle Letters and Opinion pages ... with interest. Interestingly the above presentation of Beagle readership figures and analytics draws our attention to an array of possible analytic questions an astute councillor might ask of Council's own website. No doubt there are performance figures and website administration costs that are reported under measurable KPIs.