Tue 13 Jan 2009
When Sparsely Sage and Timely moved from The Point Reyes Light to online, readership dropped from the thousands to the hundreds but became global, as I have now discovered.
Internet media consultants Janine Warner, who used to report for The Light, and her husband Dave LaFontaine spent the holidays with me. Before they returned to Los Angeles, Janine installed on my computer some software that tells me which countries my hundreds of readers are in.
In the two weeks since the new software started its counting, this site has drawn readers from: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela.
Not all readers stuck around very long, of course, but on average they spent more than two minutes per visit. The three visits from Switzerland averaged almost eight minutes each. Readers who spent more than fleeting time on this site came from: the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, Italy, Qatar, and Ghana.
Those last two surprised me for a moment. Why would someone in Qatar or Ghana care about events in Point Reyes Station? At first glance, we’re as different in culture as in climate.
Or are we? Like Marin County, Qatar and Ghana are considered more progressive than most of their neighbors, and maybe that explains why at least a couple of people in those countries read this blog. Qatar, which is has been westernizing and liberalizing for the past 13 years, is likewise well off, boasting the highest GDP per capita in the world.
A former British colony, Ghana is better off than its neighbors on the west coast of Africa but nonetheless remains poor and dependent on foreign aid. However, it is a stable country. On Jan. 2, John Atta Mills was declared the new president of Ghana after two rounds of voting. Mills unseated Nana Akufo-Addi, candidate of the ruling party, by “the smallest margin of victory in Africa’s electoral history,” The Economist reported. Yet there was a minimum of disturbances during the campaign and runoff, and Akufo-Addi conceded gracefully, prompting The Economist to call the election “a fine example to the rest of Africa.”
So congratulations to my reader in Ghana, regardless of which candidate you voted for.
Perhaps this blog’s foreign readership before long will catch up with its West Marin readership. In December, the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors reprinted my Sept. 16 posting about raccoon scat, disseminating it among members in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
And last week’s posting that told The bittersweet tale of a hardy little tree was reprinted in The West Marin Citizen, much to my surprise. In fact, there’s a lesson in all this. If you read a story here, you can retell it without worrying that your listeners will have already read it on their own — unless, of course, you’re in an Internet café in Ghana.