Our most popular story today is about Clay Butler’s medical marijuana product called Canna Cola, a soft drink that contains THC.
It’s a story about a local guy who doesn’t smoke pot, but has an interesting take on marketing this product. And the story has become a national phenomenon, featured on the home page of the Drudge Report, on Gawker, on the New York Post, and it’s been shared and liked and tweeted around the world.
Our reporter Wallace Baine said he talked to Butler and advised him not to answer the phone today, and maybe go surfing.
The attention is driving up traffic on our site. We average somewhere in the ballpark of 100,000 page views a day. We’re on a pace to hit about 160,000 today.
Our Sunday story on Clay Butler's medical marijuana soda product has been featured on the Drudge Report's home page.
An update. On Day 3, the story is more popular than ever. We’re receiving traffic from Drudge, Digg, Newsjunky.com, the Huffington Post and especially … mediatakeout.com, which has sent us more than 40,000 page views today. Thanks go to “The Most Visited Urban Website in the World”! Their headline: ‘There’s A New WEED SODA . . . That Gets You HIGH!!!’
The online team has suggested that reporters on the staff choose a day and consider how they would cover their beat if they had only a smartphone.
Coverage might consist of tweets, photos, video, audio interviews, collections of links to what’s going on, text messages, etc. Not sure the web team has enough pull to give the hard-working reporters a day off from the paper-and-ink, but we’re just hoping to make people think.
Suggestions from online readers? What do you want/expect from Sentinel reporters in 2011?
We’re continuing to work with Disqus.com to restore article commenting. Two issues seemed to come up with changes made on Disqus’ end at the end of last week. The minor issue is for Firefox users who were able to type five lines of comments and wouldn’t see a scroll bar, and couldn’t see what they were typing. According to Disqus, this is a global issue.
The other issue was more significant for Sentinel readers, and it had to do with the way Disqus interacts with our somewhat unique content management system for Internet Explorer users. For some IE users, at some times, Disqus comments jumped to the top of the article page and hid the article content – obviously not acceptable.
The same issue led us to shut down the comments just before Christmas. In that case, it had to do with changes made on Disqus’ end.
There are other issues that make Disqus awkward for IE users on our site, but we like their options for login and we like Disqus’ moderation tools.
We are committed to using a comment system that requires registration, but unsure if Disqus will be the answer. Many Bay Area papers in MediaNews, including the Mercury News, have been using a Facebook commenting system that we also tested. That’s a possible solution for us, as well.
We appreciate your patience while we work out the issues.
When there’s an earthquake felt in Santa Cruz County, we’ll have immediate updates on our site.
The best place for information is the U.S. Geological Survey page with live reports of all earthquakes in the area. We also display a live USGS widget on our earthquake page, which includes informational links, latest stories and a ton of content related to the Loma Prieta quake in 1989.
When the quake centered near San Juan Bautista hit last night at about 8 p.m., our story was posted (by City Editor Julie Copeland) by 8:10 p.m. We received a huge spike in web traffic that hour. We had also just posted Cathy Kelly’s story about earthquakes last Friday and Tuesday night. Here’s the chart of our page views:
Traffic spike shown just after 8 p.m. (chart is East Coast time)
Not sure how Sentinel.com and the newsroom staff will use Quora at this point, but it’s a social network that’s about questions and answers, and any news organization should be a big part of asking and answering questions.
Quora offers far more depth than Twitter, which we use for a wide variety of purposes, and it is more professional and informational than Facebook, which we use for a wide variety of purposes.
With Twitter, we mostly feed headlines automatically as news breaks and is posted to our site, but we also use it for search purposes and to promote web-only content from our blogs (especially the photo blog), as well as multimedia on our site. Our sports reporters are using twitter to text score updates directly to the site.
With Facebook, we typically try to post feature and human interest stories that might not otherwise get a lot of traffic on our site. And with all social media sites (we’re on Buzz, YouTube, Tumbler among others, and we even had moments when we thought Google Wave was going to change the world) we use them to keep in touch with the community and generate story ideas.
With the huge growth of Quora right now, and its quick, easy integration with Facebook and Twitter, I get the feeling that it will become a big part of the Sentinel’s social media future. We’re accepting good ideas on how best to use Quora.