One of the quiet mysteries over the last week is why exactly newsday.com became (1) the fifth-most read news web site in the country last month and (2) why unique visitors increased by 182 percent in November 2007 versus November 2006. It was ranked higher than the New York Post and the LA Times. Did everyone is Syosset and Manhasset finally get cable modems?
The reason, according to Newsday online editor Jonathan McCarthy, has to do with a political cartoon that went viral all over the internets.
“Walt was a big part of it in November,” said Mr. McCarthy. He’s referring to Walt Handelsman, the Pultizer Prize winning cartoonist who made this animation of aging baby boomers to the tune of “Born to Be Wild” (switched in the cartoon to Born Tubby and Mild).
Newsday.com received about 5.3 million unique visits in November with a significant portion coming to see that animation. “Mom got this and emailed it to an aunt who emailed it to an uncle who emailed a friend at work,” he said.
“When you’re doing online journalism, you want stuff to go viral and for everyone to share a link that eventually winds up on Google,” he said.
Mr. McCarthy said that newsday.com is generally ranked around 10th in the country as most-read news sites and normally receives about 2 to 2.5 million unique visits. December numbers aren’t quite in yet, but he said it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume they’ll return to back to the 2-million mark for this month.