3 months later, no NY Times retraction on DHD falsehoods

by Paul William Tenny

Back in November there was a story in the New York Times by Brian Stelter about Deadline Hollywood Daily blogger Nikke Finke. As much as the strike had captured peoples attention for a time, it was still very much a non-story as far as the Internet was concerned. I found it hard to believe at that time, six days after the strike had begun, claims by Finke that her blog -- which up until that point was dedicated to boring insider gossip, such as which studio executive just got fired, and which big name actor just fired his agent and moves to a different agency -- was getting as many as 300,000 page views per day before, and was now pushing over a million views per day for the strike news.

I find blogging an interesting medium and I like to know as much as I can about how things work, so I already knew that getting 300k page views per day would have placed DHD at least on the second tier for blogs in general. That is a very healthy number that with a solid advertising strategy ought to provide enough income to serve as a full time job for most people. To claim to be in the 1+ million per day range, however, would have made it competitive with some of the top sites on the Internet in general, let alone blogs. Claims such as this can be accurately verified or debunked if the top sites along with the one in question makes public their traffic statistics, even if they are only rough estimations. Some of the top 5 blogs do that, some don't, which means having to fall back on services that track website traffic on a global level through sampling. Neither of the top two sites -- Engadget and TechCrunch -- posts that information publicly, although the number three site on the list does because it is part of the Gawker network (which does that all-around.)

Gizmodo.com is Gawker's #1 draw, pulling almost 2 million pageviews per day in the month of February. Two positions down on the list at 6th is Lifehacker, another Gawker Media property. Lifehacker by comparison averaged about 710,000pv per day in Feb. That's a significant drop for two positions and I suspect some of these other sites which don't make this information available see similar drops as you traverse the top 100. As you can see from these numbers, if Finke's claims had been accurate, she would have easily been siting on a top 10 property during the strike. Instead, she wasn't even close on the original estimate.

With public statistics unavailable and me too lazy to ask (and be told to go away) I present you with the following Alexa comparison of global network traffic for the top 4 blogs, and DHD.

top-4-blogs-vs-dhd.jpgThis graph is consistent what I've already been able to gather from DHD's own statistics. In November, the month the strike began, DHD pulled in about 3 million pageviews, or just about 100k per day average. That's about 1/3rd the average Finke told the New York Times she was getting before the strike, about about a tenth of what she claimed post-strike. That was the sites best month out of the past 12, and fell to an average of about 57,000 per day in February.

I contacted Brian Stelter through the Times, suggesting he look at the publicly available data for himself, and subsequently write a correction. I never heard back from him, and over 3 months later, the Times has yet to print any kind of correction for this ridiculous grandstanding.

Inflating numbers is one thing, but inflating them by a factor of 10? Is that what being a "hollywood" insider and gossip blogger is all about? From a person who works for the LA Times, I'd have expected more honest than this. While Finke's site does on occasion have some interesting news on it (with an equal amount of rumor that turns out to be demonstrably false without any corrections, retractions, or apologies of any kind) it's certainly not a top 10 blog as Finke claimed it is.

Blogging may look easy, but it takes a lot of money, time, and talent top make it big in the blogosphere, just like doing anything else in the world. Even pulling 60k views a day, compared to the big boys with which she claims to run, DHD is low grade niche..

..just like me.
in Internet


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