Hard News by Russell Brown

Cracking the ton

Public Address passed 100,000 visits for the year on Monday. That's very pleasing, but not entirely surprising. There is a right way of doing things on the Internet and we have tried to do it.

It helps that we have largely avoided questions of finance by (with a few exceptions) investing only our time and bandwidth in the project - and correspondingly have not sought to earn any revenue from Public Address. Friction-free capitalism tends to operate most happily without actual money being involved.

Nonetheless, we have quite quickly attracted a commercially relevant audience, and it would be nice to start bringing in a little bit to pay the bills, and to justify spending some time developing new ideas. No, we're not about to charge admission - that would be stupid - but we intend at some point to carry some discreet and suitable advertising.

Our best month so far was April, with 30,000 visits from about 13,000 unique visitors (war was very good for us), and last month we logged 25,000 visits from more than 10,000 unique visitors, which seems to be our level at the moment. The chief driver for visits is the good old Hard News mailing list (which will at some point become the Public Address mailing list), which has nearly 6000 addresses from New Zealand and many other countries. I'm sure that all of those numbers could be increased with a little extra attention.

Trouble is, after more than 10 years of writing about the Internet and working on websites, I have no idea how to value what we've got. We figure on tile-style advertising, or (small) banners somewhere on the pages. Can anyone out there offer any ballpark advice? And, of course, if you would like to reach the Public Address audience in a commercial context, you can get hold of me via the feedback link above too.

But none of us are here blogging for the money, although most of us aren't averse to a little fame. It's fun, and personally rewarding. I've got no regrets about moving Hard News from its radio/email format to the weblog. I realised early on that I had lost the unrivalled directness of sending plain text to people's email inboxes, but I think I get a lot more out of the weblog format. Oddly enough, I'm writing far more than I was when Hard News was a radio feature, but I can arrange my creative time much better this way. It still feels like issues pick me more than I pick issues.

So thanks to you all for being out there (you can take that how you like). We all love getting email from readers - and I hereby tender my stock apology to all those people I don't quite get to reply to. I devote so much mental energy to developing and sharing opinions - it's in large part how I make my money - that sometimes it's hard to pop out another for a personal email.

Anyway, I'll be away in Wellington for the next few days, and I may or may not post from there. In the meantime, I suggest you keep track of the ever-so-slightly-promising Middle East peace process via the liberal Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, that you read the transcript of Tom Frewen's truly excellent Mediawatch commentary on the PM and the trade deal that wasn't, and that somebody in charge reads the results of this week's Pew survey of global opinion:

"But in most countries, opinions of the US are markedly lower than they were a year ago," the Pew survey said.

"The war has widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans, further inflamed the Muslim world, softened support for the [US] war on terrorism, and significantly weakened global public support for the pillars of the post-World War II era, the UN and the North Atlantic alliance."

In other words, how to lose friends and alienate people. Nobody is going to save the world this way...