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Dallas Morning News Website Decides It’s Got to Have More Cowbell (Cheap Pageviews)

As Peter noted this morning, NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry was arrested on a DWI charge over the weekend. So today The Dallas Morning News decides it’s the perfect opportunity for a career-retrospective photo gallery of McGarry. (Her mug shot was left out.)  Also teased on the Morning News homepage right now is a gallery of “Local Artist Sarah Jaffe through the years.” You know, all the way from the year 2007 to the year 2012.

Galleries like this are used by websites to raise the number of pageviews they can brag about. Never mind that there’s nothing particularly interesting or educational about the McGarry gallery. Someone on the DMN.com team knows that McGarry’s name is a trending search term locally, and, by gum, they’re going to suck some of those searchers into a gallery of banal photographs in order to spike the numbers. DMN has long had galleries, but I don’t recall the last time I saw them post anything that’s quite as blatant a pageview grab as those today.

The Morning News isn’t alone in sticking with the belief that all pageviews = valuable site traffic. The Washington Post editor recently encouraged his staff to create more slideshows. And locally no one can touch the enthusiasm of the CW33’s website, home to Guess Whose Assets? and Stretch, Flex & Warm Up.

But, as The Atlantic puts it, it’s a brand-damaging strategy to post slideshows regardless of quality or usefulness to the reader:

That won’t be visible to you in your analytics, but what reader of the Internet has not felt that pang: “This site doesn’t really value me or my time.” You can get a page view spike that’s actually a negative for your brand. And the more the slideshow spreads because of a clever headline or just because the topic is hot, the farther that brand damage spreads. Congratulations! You juiced the stats with an invisible poison!

(You’re maybe going to accuse me of living in a glass house, since I’m the editor of D Magazine‘s web operations, and I can not claim that we’ve never posted a series of images in such a way as to increase our pageview numbers. But we try not to do that.  We even take care with our regular Nightlife galleries to collect the names of the people that we photograph, since we consider that an important part of our coverage, instead of just vomiting a bunch of pictures of unidentified scantily-clad women at you.)

20 comments on “Dallas Morning News Website Decides It’s Got to Have More Cowbell (Cheap Pageviews)

  1. Jason! Nice effort. However, your house is not only glass, but it’s also poorly constructed. Wasting time getting the names of the people in your nightlife slideshows — names your readers simply do not care to know — does not make you any less guilty of pageview whoring. It just makes a really inefficient pageview whore.

    Joe Tone
    Licensed pageview whore since 2007

  2. The DMN has been doing this for a number of weeks now. It’s irritating as hell.

  3. Every try watching a long video on one of their blog pages? You can’t, because every few minutes the page automatically reloads. Cha-ching!

  4. Thanks for illuminating something for me. I’ve wondered for a while now why news/info sites publish things in annoying slideshow formats that take forever to click through, when I’d much rather get the info. all on one page. I don’t want to have to click through 25 slides to read 25 tips on organizing my sock drawer, dammit! But it’s all about pageview whoring, I see. Gah.

  5. @Joe Tone: We’re not expecting our readers to care about the names of strangers pictured in our nightlife galleries. We’re expecting, and we know from experience, that it means a lot to the people pictured (and to their friends and family to whom they are likely to circulate the photo) that:

    1) D Magazine knows who they are and

    2) They can freely and proudly share the gallery link with their moms because it’s not filled with skanky pictures of almost-bare boobs (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with almost-bare boobs.)

  6. @Joe Tone: But you guys own the share-with-your-roommate demo. Glass half full.

  7. @Joe Tone: I said “skanky pictures of almost-bare boobs.” We have nothing against good, clean-cut all-American almost-bare boobs.

  8. I blame FoF for the appearance of slideshows.

    Though, why does every post on frontburner turn in an attempt to bash other local media outlets?

  9. D, staffs another grunt that has nothing but quibble, but mirrors their domain. But as always gloss over matter.

  10. Wow! We’ve touched on some type of universal paradox…..humans being contradictory?!?!?! Who woulda thunk? [directed to both the D Mag and the Big D Observer]

  11. Do you guys have some kind of detailed metric to delineate the “skanky” almost-bare boobs versus the “all-American” ones? I’m sure the women posing in all these photos in both of our publications would love to know where D ranks them on the Universal Slut-Shaming scale.

  12. Friday night at the frat house is happening Monday night this week.

  13. The app is even worse. I have to go to the full site since it sucks so bad. Sunday afternoon there was a story on the app “Plan’s for Saturday Night? Try getting Mavs tickets”. Horrible.