One of my duties as Flyer editor is to help post daily news and entertainment content on the Flyer's Web site (MemphisFlyer.com). Since the editorial staff began posting daily items a little more than a year ago, we've learned a lot:
We've learned that we have a loyal (and steadily growing) daily readership. Enough so that we're now regularly selling out our Web ad space. We've learned we have lots of readers who don't hesitate to comment on our articles, which often leads to some pretty heated back-and-forth exchanges.
And we've learned that certain subjects will push the traffic meter over the top. We discovered this a year ago, when we wrote about a Memphis contestant on American Idol and our Web traffic jumped off the charts. The same thing happens whenever we post a story about Elvis or Justin Timberlake — the number of daily visitors doubles.
In short, we've learned that there are ways to manipulate Web traffic to our benefit. But, I hasten to add, we're conscientious about not taking advantage of this by posting items that are not Memphis-related in some way.
This past weekend, I must admit, I decided to experiment. I posted an item entitled "Paris Hilton Has King-Size Bed and Room Service" and posted a link to prove it.
Wooooo-wee! If our normal Web traffic is a wave, this was a freakin' tsunami! It seemed everyone in the U.S. with a computer wanted to read about Paris Hilton's outrageous accommodations.
I suspect they were probably a bit disappointed. You see, the link I posted was to the other Paris Hilton. You know, that fancy hotel located in the capital city of France — with king-size beds and room service.
Was that so wrong?
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...