Under assault for liberal bias, Politico’s traffic dives

Internet traffic and Web search measurement tools from several sources indicate that despite massive promotion efforts on MSNBC and in other venues, is rapidly losing readers, especially outside of Washington, D.C.

Measurements of U.S. Web traffic provided to The Daily Caller by Compete, Inc. indicate that the number of total monthly visits to dropped by 31.8 percent during the 18-month period that ended on October 31.

During that same period, and perhaps not coincidentally, Politico has come under sustained criticism from many observers, including Fox News Channel anchors and several prominent radio hosts, for exhibiting liberal bias in its news stories.

Other third-party traffic measurements also indicate a recent traffic decline for Politico.

Yet a glowing review of the news outlet published Wednesday by the American Journalism Review, a project of the University of Maryland Foundation, claimed it “receives nearly 60 million pageviews per month from between 8 million and 11 million unique visitors.”

Jodi Enda, the article’s author, wrote that she relied on Politico’s “internal tracking” for those numbers.

Enda, a freelancing former Philadelphia Inquirer national correspondent who has also been published in the liberal American Prospect, Mother Jones and the Huffington Post, told The Daily Caller in a phone conversation that her “researcher” fact-checked the numbers. Enda did not, however, name that researcher.

Afterward, Politico confirmed to TheDC during a follow-up conversation that Enda contacted the publication to verify the numbers it had given her.

Enda also did not say whether she or anyone else verified Politico’s self-reported Web traffic numbers against other, independent measurements.

“Tracking numbers are all over the lot for online publications, so we used Politico’s internal numbers and attributed the information accordingly,” she emailed The Daily Caller Thursday, in response to questions about her article.

Statistics provided to TheDC by Compete — one of many independent traffic arbiters — also show that from October 2009 through October 2011, total monthly visits to dropped by more than 11.5 percent. And the average number of times each of Politico’s readers actually visited the website declined by 24.7 percent during the same two-year period.

While Compete indicates that the number of “unique” visitors to increased by 17.4 percent during the same period, the raw number of unique visitors it reported for Politico in October 2011 was just 2.96 million — a number far lower than similar measurements provided to The Daily Caller by measurement services run by Nielsen, Inc., and comScore.

Lincoln Merrihew, Compete’s Managing Director of Business Insights, told TheDC that there could be two explanations for why Politico’s readers are returning to the site less often than they used to.

“So what you can say is that [either] the site is so much better, and therefore people are able to get all the news they need in fewer visits,” said Merrihew, “or it’s become much worse, and more confusing, therefore people are getting frustrated and visiting less.”