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Blogs key reason LA Times online revenue covers entire editorial payroll

December 22, 2008

LA TImes blogsThe LA Times online has grown its revenues to the point where they cover the cost of paper’s entire editorial payroll. And Neilsen Net Ratings reports the LA Times has passed USA Today and the Washington Post in uniques with, according to internal numbers, 138 million page views in November, up more than 70% in a year, and 24 million uniques, up 125%.

Russ Stanton, editor of the LA Times, in an email to Jeff Jarvis: ‘Given where we were five years ago,” he email, “I don’t think anyone thought that would ever happen. But that day is here.’ I’ll add to Jarvis’ Amen to that.

Key to the success, in addition to a crack online editorial team? Blogs.

When I became innovation editor in January 2007, only four of our 49 blogs were produced by our staff, and those blogs accounted for only 2% of our site’s total monthly traffic. Today, we have more than 40 blogs, all but six of which are produced by our staff, led by Top of the Ticket, our presidential campaign/politics effort started by Andrew Malcolm and Don Frederick. Technorati now ranks Ticket in the top 60 blogs on the internet. At last count, about half our newsgathering staff — more than 300 professionals — are contributing to our blogs. In several of our traditional print sections (California, Sports, Books, Health, Travel), the entire staff is participating in that section’s main blog. That, in turn, has been acknowledged and valued by our readers. Today, our blogs account for 16% of our total monthly page views.

The second part of the Times secret sauce is education of its staff.

With some help from our HR folks, we’ve set up a 40-class curriculum on how to expand the skills our staff needs in these key areas. The most popular classes so far are learning the software program for posting to the web, headline writing to improve SEO, how to shoot and edit video, and 360-degree storytelling, taught by Aaron Curtiss, our innovation editor.

As I shared last week, blogs are now mainstream. Both for the media and for companies selling services or products.

For law firms, blogs will be acknowledged and valued by your target audience of clients, prospective clients, and the media (other bloggers and main stream media). Rather than continue to kick out your lawyer’s intellectual capital in white papers, articles, newsletters, and alerts, why not steal a page from the LA Times playbook for success.

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