People have turned to The Times for news and information since 1864.
Even though I wasn’t there when the post started, I was there when we launched the MariettaTimes.com website.
When we launched the site in 2000, we weren’t sure where it would take us. The idea of receiving your news via your computer was quite new. Many small news organizations did not even have websites. Until then, we had not gone very far in the digital dissemination of information.
We had a rather crude fax edition that we sent to about 50 people each morning. The fax machine was next to my desk and I could hear it sending them one by one.
The Times site actually started as an experiment with two other newspapers. We sent digital pages to a production center in Washington that produced the sites each day for all three newspapers before making about 20.
We were delighted the first month when we had 19,000 pageviews on the site. After all, we had nothing to compare to. After that, we moved on to the first system where we had direct control over when and what stories were published. This would be the first of about 7 generations of systems that we have used to update the website every day. Changes are occurring not only due to improved technology but also changes in the habits of readers.
The current version of the site was used because it allowed the site to be cloud-based, meaning it is more stable than it would be if it was on a server somewhere, but also compatible. with mobile devices. Our site is actually different depending on the device you are using. Web users have migrated to using mobile devices and it is important that all websites scale properly based on screen size.
MariettaTimes.com has been online for 21 years now, reaching people all over the world.
Let’s take a look at a recent 30-day period, in this case the 30 days leading up to November 18.
Over 100,000 people visited the site during 224,923 sessions. They consulted 737,957 pages.
This information is the overview of the site, but what I find really interesting are the details of who the people are.
Our visitors came from 138 countries during the month, or 71% of the planet. This includes visitors from Uzbekistan, Montserrat and Burkina Faso, although 94% of the traffic comes from the United States and over 60% from our own region.
Accessing the site on a mobile device is currently the most popular way. There was no mobile when we started, nor were there tablets, which is the device of choice for around 5% of people.
Apple devices are by far the most common devices on which the site is accessible. About twenty different versions of iPad and iPhone are used to access the site.
People access the site through a variety of different browsers. Chrome is the most popular post, with 35% of people using it. Safari, which is the iPhone’s default browser, comes in second with 34%. Less than one percent of people use Explorer, which at one point dominated everyone else.
There are also obscure browsers such as Puffin and SeaMonkey.
I have always been intrigued by what people read when they visit newspaper sites. By far the most popular destination on the website is obituaries. People will not only read the first page of obituaries, but they will come back page after page to see who is deceased.
The popularity of actual reporting normally tends towards bad news. Murders, arrests, arson and drug seizures will almost always be read more than stories of good people doing good things.
Sometimes you will end up with a story that draws readers far outside the area. The story of Marietta’s mother being arrested for refusing to put on a mask during a football game is one example. The September 2020 story has been read 153,890 times online. Let it flow, it is more than 10 times the population of Marietta.
A newspaper is more than a building or a print edition, it is truly an institution dedicated to providing news and information to the community it serves.
Institutions that evolve can continue to serve the community. We have evolved since we started, long before I was on staff, and we will continue to do so in the future.
Art Smith is The Times’ online manager and can be reached at