Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Sexy scandal sells

with 2 comments

WordPress comes with a lot of fancy features. The one I am addicted to is called “blog stats.” Since I can’t gage my readers’ interests by their numerous, insightful comments, I look at graphs and charts and find out the habits of my readership. Multiply this by a million, and I (finally) understand why it makes headlines when blonde silly little girls go to jail. My conclusion: sex and scandal sell. How did I come to this riveting truth? Let me be your tour guide.


Here’s a graph of the J junkie’s views per day from May 28 to June 26. The flat line at the beginning corresponds to a time when the domain existed but I never posted anything. Lesson #1: If you want readers, create content.

I got my first and highest peak in readership when I emailed all the editors at the Missourian about the J junkie’s renaissance. Lesson #2: marketing is good. However, I had a hard time retaining my readership. When I fell sick and stopped updating for a few days (I’m never eating a pulled pork sandwich again), the J junkie almost flat-lined again, and my ego with it. That’s the problem with blogs: if you make a flop, you know it. In newspapers, the publisher knows it, and you, with your mad ego of a reporter, can live in blissful ignorance.

The second peak came with my father advertising this blog to dozens of techno-savvy European judges he regularly converses with. I think I retained even fewer magistrates than journalists. But the true revelation into my readers’ psyche came when I started blogging about the explosive investigation by MSNBC reporter Bill Dedman of journalists who have made campaign contributions. Amongst said journalists was Calvert Collins, easily singled out from the list of 140+ because a Facebook photo of her and Congressional candidate Jim Esch served as the article’s illustration. For me to single her out was even easier because she was, after all, a Mizzou grad. (Update: It seems Collins was fired from her Omaha TV station.)

As I started blogging about Collins, my readership grew, even yesterday when I didn’t post. It even grew even outside of my circle of real-world acquaintances. I know this because WordPress has another cool feature, which allows me to see what words people typed in search engines to get to my blog. The column used to be blank, but recently words came up: “calvert collins,” “Calvert Collins,” “Jim Esch campaign donations,” “The facebook picture of Calvert Collins,” etc…

Simple, hardly mind-blowing conclusion: news topics that are already prominent are more likely to bring readers in. News items are like airplanes: the critical time is take-off. And what guarantees a sure-fire take off? Blonde silly little girls gone bad. Sex. Scandal in all forms. My headline worked, didn’t it?

Who can blame the big bad TV daddies now for considering paying darling Paris for her interview? It may be a sad state of affair but she brings in more viewers than many a senator. It’s sickening, maybe, but TV networks have long paid for interviews that can bring a significant number of viewers.

I couldn’t afford a two-figure deal with anyone, but I am not -Paris Hilton- immune to using certain stratagems -Bill Clinton had sex with an intern- to get my readership up. I wonder what terms -Jim Morrisson is alive and well in Arkansas- need to get picked up by Google for the J junkie -free iPhone- to cross the 100-views-per-day bar.


Written by Isabelle Roughol

Thursday, 28 June, 2007 at 00:06

2 Responses

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  1. hi, i had the same experience on sex and scandals. i ran a test by just putting certain names in my posts that had no connction to the real subject matter and, lop and behold, my blog stats went5 out of sight (almost)


    Sunday, 1 July, 2007 at 00:27

  2. Brilliant. Maybe I shall (I am Anna Nicole’s baby’s daddy) renew the experience. I am not (Lindsay Lohan is in rehab) satisfied with a just a dozen viewers a (Britney Spears’ shaved head) day.


    Sunday, 1 July, 2007 at 00:31

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