October digital note

To: The Staff
From: Jimmy Orr, Managing Editor, Digital

Starting this month, we are renewing our efforts to highlight digital achievements throughout the newsroom.

Why are we doing this?  It’s important to show what’s connecting with our readers, where the readership is coming from, and to provide another way for departments to learn from one another.

First, a congrats to the team who created our population project “Beyond 7 Billion” — Ken Weiss, Rick Loomis, Armand Emamdjomeh, Stephanie Ferrell, Tom Lauder, Ken Schwencke, Julie Marquis, Mary Cooney and Liz Baylen. The project was honored for best explanatory reporting at the 2013 Online News Assn. awards in Atlanta.

The Los Angeles Times also was a finalist in three other categories: innovative investigative journalism for “Life on the Line: 911 Breakdowns at LAFD”; watchdog journalism, “Dying for Relief”; and topical reporting for “L.A.’s Political Calculus: The 2013 Race for Mayor.

New blog

We started a new blog in October, Michael Hiltzik’s the Economy Hub. In it, our Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist discusses money, investing, stocks, the economy, and politics.

In the first month, Michael became one of the top 10 most-read bylines on our site. His story “Another Obamacare horror story debunked” had the most Facebook referrals and the third-most Twitter referrals on our site. Michael did great on Reddit too, receiving the second-most referrals from the site for his post  “CEO-to-worker pay gap is obscene: Want to know how obscene?

Michael was second in Twitter engagement among the staff (non-sports) and fourth in Twitter growth (non-sports). As for sheer number of posts, he was No. 3 with 94 posts. The Economy Hub is informative, entertaining and getting a lot of recognition on social media.

Under new ownership

We’re in the process of retooling the Politics Now blog.  Cathleen Decker and Mark Z. Barabak are the primary contributors and have more than doubled the amount of monthly content with smart, real-time reporting and analysis.  As a result, Politics Now became one of the top 10 most-read blogs on the site in October.


October included two innovative online presentations. The first was on the risk of collapse of hundreds of concrete buildings in L.A. in a major earthquake. The investigative piece, by Ron Lin, Rosanna Xia, Doug Smith and Scott Gold, included a fantastic interactive graphic – a case study of neighborhoods examined by The Times and produced by Raoul Ranoa and Armand Emamdjomeh.

We also created a responsive template to host video, archival photos and an aerial tour of the Los Angeles aqueduct, which turned 100 this year. The story was written by Louis Sahagun with photos from Brian van der Brug.  Armand Emamdjomeh produced the series for online, and Stephanie Ferrell was the digital design director.


Metro continued its programming push, moving resources into the late afternoon and evening to pursue more of the lean-back audience. They are producing new posts in the night as well as promoting older posts and stories over social media.

They continue to live tweet throughout the day. We’ve seen great results when breaking news occurs — especially on weekends. We experimented with live blogging on the shooting at LAX.

Some of the biggest stories were not based on topics actively in the news but found an audience thanks to strong reporting, social media and solid headlines. Those included coverage of the Craigslist murder and the Sriracha controversy.

L.A. Now and PolitiCal also did well with the Jackson verdict and Sacramento coverage. As for long-form journalism in Metro, there were many highly read stories including: the earthquake project, inside Harvard-Westlake, the Griffith Park cougar, Pico-Union trash woes, and LAX ghost town.


The Business team continues to experiment on the most effective ways to live blog an event.  We were pleased with the coverage of Apple’s iPad announcement.  The real-time reporting and analysis resulted in a record day of traffic, the highest of any of our live-blogging efforts so far.

Our new Obamacare section is performing well.  Healthcare reporter Chad Terhune wrote the second-most-read story on the site with “Some health insurance gets pricier as Obamacare rolls out.” But the commitment to real-time reporting from the whole team resulted in engaging with many new readers.

Chad’s informative Q&A Twitter chats are growing in popularity; two that did well were his chats on the differences among the bronze, silver, and platinum plans and this one on pricing questions.

Tech reporter Sal Rodriguez’s videos continue to be highly watched.  His two videos on the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch were among the top five most-viewed videos on our YouTube channel for the month.


Entertainment had a great October on the digital front. It continued to be the most-read section on the site with four blogs (Ministry of Gossip, ShowTracker, Hero Complex and Movies Now) among the top 10 most-read blogs on the site.

The entertainment group continues to break news, scoop the competition, live blog and lead live video conversations. ShowTracker, for example, built on its highest-ever-read month in September by employing all forms of media to continue to connect with its readers.

ShowTracker’s coverage of the “Breaking Bad” finale included live blogging on Twitter and ScribbleLive, reports from the “Breaking Bad” party at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, extensive analysis and follow-up posts, and a live video chat the next day.

Some of the most entertaining live video chats last month were Scott Sandell’s conversation with Jackie Chan, Yvonne Villarreal chatting with the “voice of Siri” and the launch of television critic Mary McNamara’s new online video show “Talking TV.”

The Envelope Screening Series, one of The Times’ signature awards-season events, launched with a panel discussion with the director and cast of “12 Years a Slave” moderated by John Horn, and was followed by a panel about “Nebraska” moderated by Mark Olsen. Readers can watch streams of the entire panel as well as highlights posted after the sessions. Look for panels on “Gravity” and more this month.


On the Sports front, Bill Dwyre took on the NFL in the wake of revelations about the league’s systematic refusal to acknowledge the long-term effects of concussions and its foot-dragging in implementing long-overdue safety measures. His column “NFL is a despicable league that we should say goodbye to, but won’t”was the single most-read sports story on the site in October.

Post-season coverage of Don Mattingly’s coaching situation with the Dodgers was a hot topic on the site – with stories and blog posts from Dylan Hernandez, Bill Shaikin and Steve Dilbeck and a steady stream of tweets from all three that helped keep us at the forefront of the discussion until Mattingly finally acknowledged that he was honoring his contract.

Mixed martial arts and high-profile boxing events remain a staple for live coverage. Round-by-round live reports on the Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez and Cain Velasquez-John Dos Santos fights were read hundreds of thousands of times, thanks to Lance Pugmire.


In Foreign, Barbara Demick was fast – and best – on the story of a car running over visitors at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. She filed a quick post just before midnight Sunday, followed it up in the morning with a new post that added details. With car traffic blocked, she got on a public bus and surreptitiously shot video through the window that showed the path that the car took. Her final version of the day provided yet another post and the print version for the next morning’s paper.

Within hours of the incident, she was following up on the possibility that the occupants of the car were ethnic Uighurs. She continued to follow the story throughout the week.

Our World Now blog continues to be a destination. Carol Williams was the most-read World writer in the month of October as a result of her many topical and insightful posts on the now-growing international blog.


The National news desk continues to break news and produce long-form journalism, bringing more and more readers to our site.  The national news team was responsible for five of the top 10 most-read stories on the site, led by Evan Halper’s “A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue,” which was the most-read story for the month of October.

Matt Pearce and Michael Muskal continue to lead the way for breaking news coverage on the Nation Now blog, which was the fourth-most-read blog on the site.


Since Len DeGroot started as director of data visualization, he’s been working to change how graphics are produced for print and digital products. So far, about 30% of the work coming out of the graphics department is made for digital first. Look for that number to increase as many charts and graphs will soon be interactive templates that can be converted for use in print. Graphics are being reformatted and rewritten to be more shareable and engaging, especially those that are produced for print first.

He was joined last month by graphics and data editor Javier Zarracina, who will help us refine our motion graphics.

Here are three cool digital graphics they worked on. Two are interactive graphics that were produced for digital projects, and one was repurposed from a business graphic. This is just a taste of what we’ll see in the future:





As Home continues to focus on great, shareable information, its story on West Elm pulling knockoff products earned thousands of Facebook shares. That social strategy extends to reaching influencers across the Web. To that end, Home is getting nice referral traffic from outside resources.

Image launched a beautiful, immersive presentation for Fashion Week. Jason La and crew put together a highly scrollable, photo-heavy page that allowed users to easily see the best of each designer’s work.

Food also focused on shareable content and foods the local audience were telling us they were interested in. Coverage of the Sriracha festival and possible plant closure did very well. Jenn Harris continued to hit right offbeat notes, gathering steady traffic for Daily Dish.

Travel debuted a panoramic photo display that takes readers from one unique photo experience to another, which makes so much sense for these images.


Long-form stories performed very well for us in October, continuing a trend that began a few months ago when we redesigned the layout for our signature pieces.

Among the top 10 most-read stories this month were two Column Ones (known as Great Reads on our website): Anh Do and John Glionna’s “Two worlds meet in Wyoming’s smallest town” and Barbara Demick’s “Cockroach farms multiplying in China.”

Demick’s cockroach farm story also received the second-highest number of referrals from Facebook for the month, and John Glionna’s “He’s tough enough to be a Sissy in Wyoming” was the third-most-read story from Facebook.


As users continue to consume our news on devices in growing numbers, we saw significant increases in engagement. In October, our device agnostic site saw a 28% growth of unique users and a 15% increase in visits since the beginning of the year. These are important metrics in measuring engagement and loyalty.

Social Media

The social media team has spent the last two weeks working with the different sections in Entertainment. They are continuing there through mid-November and will then move to Features.

Now the tale of the tape….

Most-read stories

A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue by Evan Halper

Some health insurance gets pricier as Obamacare rolls out by Chad Terhune

Two worlds meet in Wyoming’s smallest town by Anh Do and John Glionna

Suzanne Somers is having sex - and a lot of it by Christie D’Zurilla

White House OKd spying on allies by Ken Dilanian and Janet Stobart

Supreme Court may steer to right in new term by David Savage

Amid split, Kris Jenner says she regrets… by Nardine Saad

Horrific flesh-rotting disease may be… by Matt Pearce

Brooke Shields scores point against ex-husband by Christie D’Zurilla

Cockroach farms multiplying in China by Barbara Demick

Most-read stories (mobile)

A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue by Evan Halper

Some health insurance gets pricier as Obamacare rolls out by Chad Terhune

Kim Kardashian’s sexy selfie has her strolling down by Christy Khoshaba

Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez by John Cherwa

Supreme Court may steer to right in new term by David Savage

18-foot-long oarfish discovered. Now what do they do with it? by Ari Bloomekatz

White House OKd spying on allies by Ken Dilanian and Janet Stobart

Government shutdown Q & A: How long? by David Lauter

UFC 166: Cain Velasquez defeats Junior Dos Santos by Todd Martin

CEO-to-worker pay gap is obscene… by Michael Hiltzik

Most-read stories referred by Facebook

Another Obamacare horror story debunked by Michael Hiltzik

Cockroach farms multiplying in China by Barbara Demick

He’s tough enough to be a sissy in Wyoming by John Glionna

Ellen DeGeneres gives $10,000 to waitress … by Jessica Gelt

A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue by Evan Halper

Most-read stories referred by Twitter

Magic Johnson out as ESPN analyst by Scott Collins

Some health insurance gets pricier as Obamacare rolls out by Chad Terhune

White House OKd spying on allies by Ken Dilanian and Janet Stobart

Another Obamacare Horror Story Debunked by Michael Hiltzik

An alien world dripping with water? by Deborah Netburn

Most-read stories referred by Reddit

Missouri rape: Mother says sheriff and prosecutor lied by Matt Pearce

CEO-to-worker pay gap is obscene… by Michael Hiltzik

A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue by Evan Halper

Ed Lauter, character actor… dies at 74 by Claire Noland

Tea party Republicans blame Obama for shutdown they planned by David Horsey

Top Twitter engagement

(Engagement = total number of retweets, mentions and favorites)

Sports dominated, although Mike Memoli and Michael Hiltzik also did well.











Most-read blogs

L.A. Now

Ministry of Gossip


Nation Now

Hero Complex

Sports Now

Daily Dish

Politics Now

Movies Now

Science Now

Most-viewed Framework photo galleries

125 years of still magic

Pictures in the news, October 4, 2013

The Hollywood sign: A photographic history

L.A. Aqueduct: Coursing through history and California wilderness

Capturing history as it was made: Los Angeles Times celebrates 130th

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