I Can See Clearly Now

By | October 19, 2006

Every Thursday, I spend the majority of my day putting together a Connecticut entertainment email for nearly 12,000 subscribers. The email is in HTML and the reason it takes so long is because I have to painstakingly hand-code almost 60 urls. This is after I make editorial decisions on which 60 items to promote.

Here’s what the ctnow.com Weekender Email looks like and [shameless plug alert] feel free to sign up for it! (I think it needs a curvy Web 2.0 redesign, but I digress…)

Anyway, the emailing software I use allows me to immediately track how many links people are clicking. So every Thursday I find myself glued to an “active tracking” window that automatically refreshes. I want to see if readers are actually receptive to the events I selected.

When I worked as a newspaper reporter from 1994-99, the only way I could tell if people were reading my stories was if they talked to me or my editors (in person, over the phone or snail mail letters) to praise or complain. It was often like working in a fog.

The immediate metrics of the web are a step forward. Now, a media company can more accurately gauge the effectiveness of a particular initative and determine what’s working and what isn’t.

It relates directly to what Time, Inc is doing with bloggers, as mentioned earlier this week on Dr. Halavais’s blog. Bloggers for Time, Inc. will be directly remunerated on the basis of their traffic.

Now, the “hardcore journalist” in me wonders if that’s fair. Is good journalism about quantity (of readers), or quality (of the writing, reporting)?

Well, the news business is still a business and if no one is reading, than that can’t be good.

The threshold for journalism is going to change – because we really aren’t working in a fog anymore.

(BTW: Its been just under an hour since I sent the email, and I’m up to 853 clicks … 859 … 866 … 868…)


ahoving on October 19, 2006 at 9:43 pm.

Nicely done, Marie (I also do an email to about that number every Friday and also obsessively watch the clicks.)

Some notes from this side of the screen (a Mac with Camino browser):

The link you gave for the signup seems to be the same as the other one

I think you ask for too much info at this early stage (have you tried asking for less to see if that ups the signup rate?)

it turned out I was already a user (I had proposed an online product to the parent company several years ago) but the type informing me of that was too small for me to notice right away

after I logged in and selected the Weekender (and MyNews) and hit ENTER, it didn’t automatically take me anywhere.

All fwiw — for what it’s worth.


icm501 on October 24, 2006 at 10:16 pm.

I would have burned out in a few weeks if I had to “painstakingly hand-code almost 60 urls” every week.

But on the brighter side, you are probably an expert at it.

mariekshan on October 25, 2006 at 9:59 am.

Ok, I may be exaggerating a little about the “painstaking” part. And I’m no expert. It’s all about the tools. There are many tools to make the process easier. First and foremost, use the tools called CUT and PASTE – CTRL-C and CTRL-V.

When it comes to web production, CTRL-C and CTRL-V are your very best friends.

Another great tool I’ve used for years is called ROBOTYPE. I recommend Robotype to everyone. It has increased my daily production tenfold, (which may or may not be a good thing, now that I think about it…)


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