High School Journalism Web Site Traffic Data from January

Google Analytics Screenshot from FHNtoday.com

Early in February, I made an all-call to three different organizations, comprised of more than 1,100 individuals involved in scholastic media, asking them to share their site’s Web traffic data. Twenty-one sites shared their visitor data so that we can have a first look into traffic generated on scholastic media sites.

I want to start by thanking those advisers who responded to this request. I think there is a bit of apprehension by the masses on sharing data. I’m a firm believer that we should share what we can with others and I thank those who took the time to do so.

Tracking data is important for Web staffs as it really is one of the best gauges as to whether people are actually going to the site. Yearbook staffs can track sales. Newspapers staffs can see if people are actually reading them in class or the halls. Most Web visits by students fall outside of the school day so it’s important to find a way to track that.

I had planned to do something with this data other than just present it, however, after talking with a few people I came to the decision that the data might be presented best as it came in, untouched. There are too many variables with school size, length of time online, etc. to do too much averaging.

Here are a few other things you should know or consider when looking at the data:

  • Another eight sites offered to share data but it was too incomplete too use
  • Data for the sites is drawn from Jan. 4-Feb. 4 for most sites but there is a little variance with that as well
  • Some schools were did not have school during a few of these days due to Winter break
  • Again, school demographics are different making it hard to compare a school with 2,000 students to one with 400
  • Some schools have had an online presence for 3 months, others for 3 years
  • Some sites have all computer homepage’s in their school set to default to their site, other scholastic media staffs aren’t allowed to do that

The data show is not meant to compare each of the 21 sites with one another, rather, it’s simply meant to show a gauge of the success some sites are having (and yes, I think ALL of these sites are having success since people are visiting them).

I would like to use this as a jumping point for a much larger look into this. I would like for schools to ‘sign on’ to share this data at least once a year, if not twice. I think it would be great to share this data each December on first semester stats and again at the end of the year. I will be asking in May for schools once again to share their data. This time though, it will be from throughout the year for as long as they’ve been tracking it.

Regardless of whether or not you would like to participate, you should install an analytic tracking service. I recommend Google Analytics. It’s easy to install. It’s free. And it gives a great deal of data. Here is a video that expains how to install it if you’re using WordPress. If you’re not using WordPress, just Google whatever platform you are using (like “How to install google analytics in joomla) and I’m sure there will be a video showing you how.

After you get a chance to look at the data below, feel free to comment below on how we should consider using this data to help one another or feel free to ask questions about things that are unclear.

Click here for Web site data from January 2010 of a few scholastic media sites.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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