Kim Kardashian, 1 – Tony La Russa, 0: The Sports Blog’s Dependence On Page Views

Who would you rather read about?

There’s no better sign of what’s become of the sports world than the sequence of events that took place today. This morning we were hit with the bombshell that Tony La Russa, fresh off his third World Series win, was going to retire.

A couple hours later that news was absolutely trounced by the news that the first lady of sports, Kim Kardashian herself, planned on filing for divorce from her husband of two months, Kris Humphries.

I’m sure there are tons of sportswriters and radio hosts who are up-in-arms that one of the best managers in the history of baseball is being overshadowed by a woman who’s made millions of dollars for doing nothing, but this isn’t going to be one of those rants.

As a member of the “blogosphere” (anybody who’s in it doesn’t really call it that), I had to become well acquainted with the fact that page views are essential. I write what I consider to be funny, interesting, unique pieces, but I get modest numbers when it comes to views. When I wrote for another sports website, which will remain unnamed, any article containing the word “hottest,” “sexiest,” or “WAG” (wives and girlfriends) got tens of thousands of views.

I witnessed firsthand how simply using the name “Kim Kardashian” in the title of an article could get you 50,000 views. I see your eyes panning to the top of the page to see that, yes, my title includes her name. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Is it fair that an insightful, clever, well-written piece of journalism can be trumped in terms of views by a one-paragraph blurb with a search-friendly headline about a story that has already been broken by 30,000 other sites? No.

Is there anything we can do about it? Not really.

There are tons of other ways of determining how many people are looking at your site and how long they stay, but page views are the easiest for people other than Nick The Computer Guy to comprehend.

Obviously the more views you get, the more people will be exposed to the ads on your page, and the more advertisers will pay you for space on your site.

I understand the model. You get the views, which allows you to build an audience. Once you get the audience you can branch out and start to write some things that you’re not afraid to send to your mother. I can’t blame the sites for doing it, because no matter how much we bark and scream, “that’s not news!” the page views tell us that’s what the majority of people want to see.

It goes into a much greater discussion about whether the responsibility of a news site (or sports blog in this case) is to provide the reader with what they want to know, or to provide the reader with what they should know. But I’ll leave that for “Intro to Journalism” classes.

I take both out of the equation and I just write what I want to write. As a result I have a website full of posts that I’d be proud to share, but I’ve made virtually no money from them.

My only hope is that one day I’ll build up a big enough audience and generate enough page views to attract advertisers. Or I’ll be noticed by one of the sites that already has an established an audience and they’ll pay me vast sums of money for my brilliant content.

Until then I’ll just keep writing because it’s what I love to do. And I can just hope that people will read it and like it.

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  • Yeah man, this news was ubiquitous. It was all everyone wanted to talk about. Hard to do much about that.