The Numbers Crunch: When terror is trending

A wrap up of Top Fives from the past week: Most read stories, traffic sources, most active threads, website sections, reader locations.

August 29, 2011 13:58
The Numbers Crunch

Numbers Crunch 311. (photo credit: Mrkay Design)


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It was a tragic week for Israelis, a tense week on the southern border, and consequentially a busy week on the JPost News desk. The Numbers Crunch has put together a collection of Top Fives, to look into what interests The Jerusalem Post’s readers: what you like to read, watch and comment on, which writers you want more information on, and what topics are of most interest.

First up, the most-read stories of the week. No surprises here. All five stories related to Thursday April 18’s terror attacks, and all pulled hundreds of thousands of readers across the board.

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The 5 most read stories

1. At least 7 dead, 25 hurt in terror attacks near Eilat - Yaakov Katz
2. Southern Israel hit by 80 Gazan rockets - Yaakov Lappin
3. PM: We respond immediately, powerfully to attacks - staff
4. Gov’t considers escalation in face of Gaza rockets - Yaakov Katz
5. Grad rocket blasts injure 3 Palestinians in Ashdod - Yaakov Lappin

What does this list tell us? First of all, the obvious: These attacks were a major news event which captured the attention of JPost readers, as well as the country, the region and the world. Also, with the exception of Yaakov Katz’s timeline of the events of the attacks (position 7), and a photo gallery of the aftermath (position 9), all of the stories in the Top 10 were hard or semi-hard news stories directly related to the events.

Both readers who came directly to the site and readers who were referred by search engines, aggregation sites or shared links were mainly looking for news on the attacks and their aftermath, for the duration of the week.

Speaking of which, the Top Five ways in which readers got to stories on in the past week:


Top Five traffic sources on

1. Directly
2. From a Google search
3. Via Google News
4. From the aggregate blog Atlas Shrugs
5. Stories shared on Facebook

Interestingly, Twitter was way down in 13th place, and US news aggregate site Drudge Report was strong in 8th position. There were very minor differences compared with previous weeks, but none in the Top Five, which suggests that apart from increased numbers, online readers behaved largely the same way when this big story broke as they do during regular news cycles.

In line with previous weeks, the stories that most moved people to comment weren’t necessarily the stories that were most read. However unlike in other weeks, all of the most active threads were hard news stories; facts and figures rather than opinion and analysis.

Top Five most active threads

1. Egypt: Barak’s apology for solders’ deaths not enough (242 comments)
2. US: Aid to Egypt conditional on peace with Israel (235 comments)
3. Grad rocket blasts injure 3 Palestinians in Ashdod (226 comments)
4. Gov't considers escalation in face of Gaza rockets (192 comments)
5. Beck moves up restoring courage event due to Ramadan (142 comments)

It seems readers were far more interested in posting comments on stories relating to the aftermath and reactions to the attacks, rather than the events themselves. The obvious exception was 5th place, a preview story on US pundit Glenn Beck’s Jerusalem rally. Here, readers’ usual tendency to post comments on matters of religion was apparent.

Which brings us to JPost sections: Once they get to the homepage, where do our readers go to find stories? Which topics most interest them? After the homepage itself, and the news briefs, these were the most visited sections on the homepage:

Top Five JPost sections

1. Terror in the South
2. Blogs
3. Opinion
4. Defense
5. Jewish world

Again, no surprises. With the major traffic on the site coming to stories on the terror attacks in the South, it makes sense that the special section which brought all of the stories together pulled the highest numbers. After that, it seems, readers go for the analysis, the experts’ takes on the big stories - in our blog and opinion sections. And then defense, obviously, and lastly the Jewish World section. On average weeks, the Jewish World section sits above Middle East, but last week’s events skewed the order.

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And which writers engage the JPost readership? Our newly launched author pages are getting significant traffic, especially when big stories break. In the past week, these were the most viewed pages:

Top Five JPost author pages

1. Yaakov Katz
2. Caroline Glick
3. Elana Kirsh
4. Yaakov Lappin
5. Gil Hoffman

And lastly, to wrap up, JPost by city:

Top Five JPost locations

1. Tel Aviv
2. New York
3. Toronto
4. Los Angeles
5. Jerusalem

As an Aussie expat, I think it’s necessary to point out that Melbourne took the 10 spot, and I should give a shout out to the British Empire too: London was in 8th place.

So, to bring it all together: JPost readers come directly to the site as well as following links, share stories on social media, and are interested in where our reporters come from and their background. From Israel and across the English-speaking Diaspora, JPost readers are intensely interested in Israeli current events, and come to the site for both news and analysis, written and in video and pictorial form.

All-in-all, an insane week on, and though it gives us a chance to do what we do best, we’d rather we didn’t have to. Here’s to quieter weeks to come, on both sides of the border.

From news sites to blogs, tweets to videos, The Numbers Crunch is a biweekly column which zooms out and brings you the big picture online, from Israel, the Middle East and around the world, and poll results from If you have stats to share, e-mail

The writer is the Internet desk manager at The Jerusalem Post

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