Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quite an earthquake

It's not that I had forgotten yesterday; news media of all kinds wouldn't let one forget. That 5.4 earthquake yesterday, centered in Chino Hills, about 20 miles away, made the Register building rock'n'roll more extensively than anything in recent memory -- maybe 15 years. Our building has rollers way down deep precisely to help it survive an earthquake, which it did nicely -- a few things fell off desks, but nothing broken -- but one result is that the building rolled back and forth for some time after the initial shock, which was a sharp up-and-down jolt. Other places didn't fare so well, with any number of stores having merchandise strewn all over the floor, and some minor damage. But fortunately no injuries or major damage.

Anyway, here's the Register editorial, urging people to put together earthquake/disaster kits to be ready if and when the Big One hits. If you're interested in absurdly comprehensive coverage, here's the Register's news section. Haven't heard the final numbers, but based on traffic during the hour or so after the quake our people who track such things said they expected a million hits on the earthquake section that day. Perhaps it's an example of what a newspaper Web site can do to serve the community and itself also -- perhaps not; we'll know more after more detailed assessment.

Unfortunately, we can't count on a disaster every day to drive traffic, and word is that while Web traffic is up and the zoning strategy, which we've just begun to roll out (two of an eventual dozen or so zones) is bringing in revenue. But overall revenue is still down from last year. I think the Register is at least being proactive in responding to the readership crisis that afflicts the whole industry and is doing some smart things. But there are certainly more rough times ahead.

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