TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2014
Inquirer online’s multiplier effect inspires unexpected impact By John Nery Editor in Chief INQUIRER.net IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST unforgettable stories to emerge out of the “Yolanda” tragedy. INQUIRER reporter DJ Yap, who was in Tacloban City together with photographer Niño Jesus Orbeta when Yolanda came roaring in on Nov. 8, 2013, filed a harrowing story about one person’s survival. “High school teacher Bernadette Tenegra, 44, would never forget the last words of her daughter. “‘Ma, just let go. Save yourself,’ said the girl, whose body was pierced by wooden splinters from houses crushed by Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda.’ “‘I was holding her and I kept telling her to hang on, that I was going to bring her up. But she just gave up,’ said Tenegra, her face contorted in grief.” The story appeared in the newspaper on Monday, Nov. 11—and on INQUIRER.net several hours before, at 30 minutes after midnight. The headline alone captured both the human scale of the tragedy, and the absurd, upside-down world that Yolanda created: “Daughter’s last words: ‘Ma, just let go… Save yourself.’”
Single most read article Three days after the supertyphoon made landfall, two days after the true and unprecedented scope of the tragedy started to become clear, Yap’s story about Tenegra’s unbearable loss struck a nerve. It went on to become the single most read article in the last year and a half, generating over 1.88 million page views. If we assume that the newspaper has a base of anywhere between 600,000 and 1,200,000 readers, based on pass-on readership (let’s agree on the mid-point, or 900,000), and if we assume further that all 900,000 readers read the story, then the version published online drew a readership that was double the size of the print story’s audience. This is the multiplier effect that INQUIRER.net contributes to the INQUIRER Group of Companies; it allows stories that see print in the Philippine Daily Inquirer or break on dzIQ Radyo INQUIRER or begin as an item on an RSS feed managed by Megamobile to reach a new and often larger audience. In 2014, the monthly number of UVs or unique visitors (a measure of the number of devices that access INQUIRER.net) has averaged at over 7 million.
One million likes INQUIRER.net, the INQUIRER Group’s online operation, also helps run the Group’s main social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook account
reached a major milestone on Sept. 15, at 5:03 p.m. to be exact, when it broke the 1-million-likes barrier. Since “social” is a growing source of traffic for the website, and “liking” the INQUIRER account on Facebook gives the social network user the option to sign up for notifications from the INQUIRER, the million-likes mark was a real milestone.
Organic growth But as an INQUIRER.net story noted then: “We are not the first Philippine brand to reach this milestone, nor even the first media organization. (We are, however, the first newspaper group to do so. INQUIRER.net is the online operation of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s leading newspaper.) But we are happy that the growth of the audience in Facebook was organic—that is, done the old-fashioned way.” The growth in traffic to INQUIRER.net is also organic; the company does not use so-called click factories. Today, the website is among the Top 10 Philippine sites as measured by Alexa rankings (others on the list include tech giants Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, as well as TV network ABS-CBN), and both Google Analytics and Alexa measure its “time on site” (the average amount of time a website’s users spend accessing it) as by far the highest among Philippine news and information websites.
One million pesos Perhaps the most powerful (and unexpected) proof of the impact the INQUIRER online can make is the simple, stirring story of Ashley Nepomuceno. Reporter Kristine Angeli Sabillo (now INQUIRER.net’s chief of reporters) was riding the MRT last April when she chanced upon an unusual scene. The story she wrote the day after described it clearly. “When 54-year-old Cleofe Navarro boarded the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) carrying her granddaughter Ashley Anne Nepomuceno, there was a momentary silence among the passengers. “A couple of women stood up and gave up their seats. Nanay Cleofe, cradling the 6-year-old child, smiled shyly. “Pasensya na po kayo,” she said, seemingly embarrassed at her predicament. “In her arms was a child with limbs covered in bandages, head bleeding despite the gauze. “A visibly weak Ashley wailed in pain while Nanay Cleofe positioned her away from the heat of the sun. “Suddenly, a woman sitting across her handed over what seemed to be money. A couple of minutes later, one or two other good Samaritans did the same.”
STRANGERS ON THE TRAIN An online story of MRT passengers’ chance encounters with Ashley Anne Nepomuceno waiting in pain in the arms of her grandmother Cleofe started a fundraiser that is now at P1.4 million, and counting. INQUIRER PHOTO
A chance encounter, a simple story—and an almost casual mention of people spontaneously doing acts of charity. By some alchemy, “MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-
old Ashley” got people giving too. Immediately after publication, hundreds of people inquired, by e-mail or phone or on Facebook, about how to donate to a fund for Ashley. Two
days after the story broke, the INQUIRER published the details of the bank account to send donations to, and in less than a week, over P500,000 had been raised.
To date, donors large and small have given a total of almost P1.4 million to help Ashley. Unexpected, inspiring action, worth a million likes, or more.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer marks its 29th anniversary today with simple rites at its offices in Makati City.