The folks at WLUC have certainly shown their muscles in the last month.
Total page views on their website in January: 7.7 million. That’s about 250,000 a day. Back in 2004, the same website was getting 250,000 a month.
A 30-fold increase in ten years. Yeah, that’s pretty good growth.
A couple of caveats here: Last month’s total exceeded the previous record by about three million, and it was inflated by the cold weather and the school cancellations.
How’s that compare to the other major online news source in this region, the Mining Journal? Hard to tell, hard to find an apples-to-apples comparison, and the editor didn’t return a call to discuss the issue.
But anybody who’s observed the two websites recently can’t help but conclude that WLUC’s site is more robust and more current than the Mining Journal’s. The Mining Journal’s website sometimes goes unchanged for hours or even longer; you get the impression that someone’s gone home and turned the lights out.
What the newspaper does have, on the other hand, is longer, more comprehensive, and frequently more insightful stories than the TV station’s site. John Pepin, in particular, will give you stories with information you won’t find anywhere else.
And when was the last time you read a genuine investigative piece on wluctv6.com? Go ahead, keep thinking. It’ll take a while.
The bottom line, though, is this. WLUC is taking its web platform seriously; the Mining Journal, it seems, is not. The newspaper seems to regard its website as an inconvenient appendage to its core product, the actual “paper.”
If you’ve studied the recent history of newspaper circulation and broadcast news ratings–in contrast to the explosive growth of online news consumption–you can’t help but conclude that TV stations and newspapers need to massively redirect their resources to their online product soon, like yesterday.
If not, they’re going to slowly slide into irrelevance and obsolescence. Ask yourself, how many of today’s 20-year-olds are suddenly going to wake up when they’re 30 or 40 and say, “Yeah, I think I’ll order a subscription to the Mining Journal and have it delivered to my home at 2 in the afternoon! Great idea!”
None of them will. They’ll be getting their news on their iPads, their cellphones and their laptops, or whatever new gadget the tech wizards have designed by then.
(Full disclosure: I was the news director at WLUC from 2004-2011.)
It’s been a roller coaster week for our hometown mining company.
Maybe you haven’t heard but there’s been a hostile takeover attempt underway at Cliff’s Natural Resources. Casablanca Capital, an activist hedge fund that owns about five percent of Cliffs, isn’t happy with the company’s performance, its dividends or its plans for the future.
In fact, Casablanca wants Cliffs to spin off its international businesses. It also nominated its own candidate for CEO who eventually lost to the company’s candidate, Gary Halverson.
But the takeover attempt remains alive.
Meantime, Cliffs laid off 500 employees in Canada and cut its capital spending by $425 million. Sounds bad.
But then the company just reported that profits and revenues are up. That’s good.
Then again, the stock price is still languishing around $23 a share. That’s bad (especially for us stock wizards who jumped in at $78, $57 and $35 a share).
However, the price has been rising in recent days. That’s good.
Halverson, the new CEO, will be in Marquette next month, to explain it all.
Suggested bullet points for his speech:
“We’ve gone through some tough times.”
“We’re turning it around.”
“The long term future looks good.”
“Oh, sorry about having to close the Empire mine.”
If you’re looking to sell your million dollar home in Marquette or the surrounding townships, good luck.
Appraiser Bruce Closser, who spends his time compiling such statistics, tells us no home here sold for over a million dollars last year. In fact, none sold for over $700,000.
Only about a dozen, he reports, sold for over $400,000.
Seems a little surprising. We get the impression sometimes that big money is discovering Marquette. Apparently, not yet.
That’s not to say there aren’t million dollar homes out there. They just haven’t been listed by a realtor and sold for that amount in the last year.
Average price for a home here is $165,000 which is actually more than the average in Green Bay, Lansing and Detroit (where you can buy a home for a shiny nickel and a cup of coffee).
What lies ahead for the real estate market in Marquette? Slow but steady growth, between zero and six percent a year, according to Closser. You won’t get rich in residential real estate here but you won’t go broke, either.
Update: Huey Real Estate, which specializes in high dollar properties and is not listed on the Multiple Listing Service, sold a home on Lake Superior and the Little Garlic River for $1.1 million in December.
If you missed it, last weekend was classic Marquette.
The 19th century met the 21st century, all within 24 hours. Sled dog racing with the UP 200 and the Midnight Run on Friday night, and then a snowboarding and skiing competition in the Downtown Showdown Saturday evening. All in the heart of downtown.
A great show, a wonderful showcase for Marquette in the middle of winter. And yeah, it was cold, like 5 degrees, which kept the crowds down, but if you love winter and you love spectacles, you couldn’t have found a better place on earth (except maybe for Sochi).
On Saturday, in an outside VIP bar at Range Bank, they were serving ice cold beer to scores of satisfied customers. Only in the U.P.
All the events were a tribute to the volunteers and merchants who spent countless hours and thousands of dollars making the weekend happen.
By the way, there’s a good chance the Downtown Showdown will be extended an extra block next year, allowing the skiers and snowboarders to start their run at the Landmark Inn, and then turning left and finishing at the bottom of Washington Street.
More speed, more fun, and hopefully a few more degrees in temperature.
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