We mentioned last month that we would be changing the criteria by which we choose the Writer of the Month. The current first-past-the-post system has served the nation well, but with it now being five years since NewsBiscuit was launched, we feel the time is right to move to a proportional representation model. From now on the Writer of the Month award will go to the author of the month's most popular story, as measured by unique page views - ie the number of different readers who visit the page carrying the story.
This will ensure that the story - whether a front page, news in brief or left alert - that has attracted the most readers to the site gets recognition, and it also provides an incentive for you promote your own stories by forwarding the daily emails, begging friends and relatives to visit the site and employing a marketing agency on your behalf.
To give you an idea of how it would work, had we used this system for July Oxbridge would still have won because his story 'Hot summer could wipe out Goth population, warn experts' attracted the most unique page views in the month - just over 21,000. In fact that story was some distance ahead of the second-placed story, The Paper Ostrich's 'US preacher insists 'I only ever predicted the end of the News of the World'', which was in turn only a nose in front of the third-placed piece, waylandsmithy's 'Hornby wins contract for high-speed rail link'.
Before everyone starts pointing out all the flaws in the system - like that a story published on the last day of the month has only one day to attract hits while a story published at the beginning of the month has 30 days - a few qualifications and pointers:
- - The story doesn't have to be published that month to win - it could have been published previously;
- The most popular story could be a left alert or a news in brief rather than an FP; (A while ago the NIB 'Scientists discover snowflake identical to one which fell in 1963' attracted enormous hits - more than FPs published that month.)
- That said, more recent stories do tend to attract more hits than older pieces because they are more prominent on the homepage. For the same reason FPs tend to attract more hits than NIBs and left alerts, not least because they also come with the added advantage of being illustrated by red; and
- A story can only win once, so a phenomenally popular story that kept attracting the most hits each month wouldn't keep winning.
We will see how it goes for a few months, but reserve the right to introduce a premium rate telephone voting system when it all goes wrong and we end up with a coalition no one wants. Unmarked brown envelopes should continue to be sent to the usual address.