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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

300,000 – but who’s counting?

Despite Gentz boycott call, Progressive Charlestown readership grows
By Will Collette

Says she's never read Progressive Charlestown but knows enough to
denounce it from the Council dais (giving us a 40% bump in readership)
It’s been hard not to pay attention to our readership figures – like any editor or writer, I want to know that people are actually reading our stuff, so, yes, I look at our numbers at least once a day.

When Tom Ferrio and I started Progressive Charlestown, we thought that there might be a few dozen people who would click on the website, mainly out of curiosity, to read our personal take on Charlestown life, culture and politics.

At the end of February 2011, our first full month of operation, our articles were read a total of 1150 times[1], an average of just over three dozen a day.

As we started to figure out what we were doing, got sucked deeper in the morass of Charlestown politics, got more serious about doing investigatory reporting and news writing, wrote more stories, got more contributors and made the site look nicer, we hit our first 100,000 mark on December 8th, ten months after we started.

It only took four more months to hit the 200,000 mark which we did on April 7.

And now just over three months to hit 300,000.

At the June Town Council meeting, Councilor Lisa DiBello denounced Progressive Charlestown in general and me in particular for being a nasty piece of work that printed lies and slander. I think she meant “libel,” not “slander” since slander involves the spoken word, while libel involves print. But Lisa usually has to ask for a solicitor's ruling on nearly every legal matter - and didn't do that when she launched into her attack. 

As for DiBello's claim that we lie, I challenged DiBello to respond – with facts – to a long list of issues involving her that were the subject of detailed, documented coverage in Progressive Charlestown. Haven’t heard a word. Classic case of DiBello making an accusation without a shred of proof.

But the day after she attacked Progressive Charlestown from the Council dais, Progressive Charlestown had its biggest day ever with 1,436 page-views.

She helped Progressive Charlestown set its highest monthly record – 28,781 page-views in June, compared to June 2011’s total of 12,268. That works out to an average of 960 per day, including weekends when readership usually falls off to around 750.

At the July 9 Town Council meeting, Council Boss Tom Gentz echoed Councilor DiBello’s attack on Progressive Charlestown and on me, urging people to boycott the site. Like DiBello, he offered his denunciations without a single shred of evidence or documentation. Again, that is so typical of Gentz and his CCA colleagues.

While we didn’t get a “DiBello spike” from Gentz’s attack, our next day our numbers went from PC's current average daily readership of 933 to 1,273 page-views. .

There’s an old saying that you judge your strength by how vigorously your enemies attack you. While we didn’t set out to make enemies – only to write the news, give our opinions and poke fun at town characters and blowhards – Gentz and DiBello declared war on us from the Council dais.

Since we started, we have printed just under 2,250 articles. We have also printed almost 2700 comments while rejecting 620 troll-grams from anonymous commenters.

Our top local story of all time was the piece on Councilor Lisa DiBello’s demand that the town pay her $1.5 million in return for which she would drop her lawsuit, DiBello v. Charlestown, and go away.
Our Top Ten local topics are, in order, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, taxes, the Town Council, Tom Gentz, Dan Slattery, Ruth Platner, the Planning Commission, Wind energy, the YMCA and Jim Mageau.

Charlestown Living and Humor are two top categories. And that about sums it up, until the next milestone.

[1] We count in “page-views,” not “hits.” A “page view” means a reader has actually clicked on a single article, presumably to read it. A “hit” simply means someone clicked on the website. While I have never seen a formula that shows the ratio of the number of hits to the number of page views, the experts generally say it takes a lot of hits to generate one page-view.