local news and social media

[Editor’s Note: This four-part series examines Facebook “likes” and Twitter activity among the local news media. Part one covered TV news in the OKC market, part two covered TV news in the Tulsa market, and part three covered state and local newspapers. This final installment in the series covers online-only outlets in mainly based out of OKC.]

As stated before, part of the impetus for this series on local news and social media was to help us at NonDoc orient ourselves within the existing news landscape.

At the same time, we’re hella busy with bigger fish to fry and don’t have time for a lot of profit-motivated navel gazing. So, our market research is your content. In this final installment of a series we’ve casually referred to as data porn, we cover the plots of readership territory most relevant to our particular business model: online-only news outlets.

In an age where more than half of all users get their news from Twitter and Facebook, it makes sense than ever to be an online-only news site. Without a print product to publish or a newscast to shoot and broadcast, such outlets minimize overhead and often run on skeleton crews. At the same time, operators monetize the analytics of site traffic and social media involvement to create a self-sustaining product with the capacity to generate revenue at the same time it publishes content.

That’s the idea, anyway.


This is the last time I’ll say it: The following analysis is non-scientific. We hold no illusions as to the usefulness or comprehensiveness of the results contained herein. The conclusions drawn and stated are strictly for entertainment purposes only. If you want the whole spiel, please visit one of the earlier articles in the series.

The websites included in this part of the study were chosen based on my personal familiarity with them. I included the now-defunct Oxford Karma because the site exhibits relatively competitive numbers despite its seven-month lifespan.

Most data were gathered between noon and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, except for NonDoc’s data, which the Chief and I decided to include just last night, and The Okie’s data, which was deemed viable for inclusion just today. Those metrics were pulled at about 1 p.m. today. Since those times, some data have likely changed, so this report considers all cited data a snapshot of those particular times.

Facebook likes: Red Dirt rustles up a heap

Red Dirt Report /@reddirtreportOK 51,670
The Lost Ogle / @TheLostOgle 27,161
The Okie / @okiepolitics 18,905
Forty-Six News / @FortySixNews 12,850
Oklahoma Watch / @OklahomaWatch 7,112
Frontier / @readfrontier 2,900
Oxford Karma (defunct) / @oxfordkarmamag 1,398
NonDoc / @nondocmedia 1,277
McCarville Report / @McCarvilleReport 715


Red Dirt Report musters up the most likes on Facebook by almost double its closest competition, The Lost Ogle. The field dwindles down from there, with several thousand likes separating each consecutive ranking. Both of these leading sites launched in 2007, and even though TLO began posting on the social media site in 2012 and RDR joined a year later, the latter still manages a robust lead over the former. Perhaps users took the disclaimer in TLO’s cover photo to heart when it states, “follow or unfollow at your own risk.” Plus, with a self-proclaimed “offensive, rude, juvenile, irreverent, crass, immature, off-the-cuff and occasionally funny” site like TLO, some members of the Facebook community who’ve found themselves the butt end of their jokes may indeed have taken that disclaimer literally.

Tweets: TLO takes the cake

URL / handle TWEETS
(in thousands) / @TheLostOgle 25.300 /@reddirtreportOK 9.595 / @McCarvilleReport 7.560 / @OklahomaWatch 5.937 / @okiepolitics 3.700 / @FortySixNews 2.038 / @oxfordkarmamag 1.123 / @readfrontier 0.851 / @nondocmedia 0.466


Perhaps making up for lost ground in the likes category, TLO exhibits a commanding presence on Twitter, spouting off at the beak a total of 2.6 times more often than runner-up RDR. Again, both sites joined Twitter at similar times (February 2009), yet TLO emerges hugely dominant in this category. Meanwhile, McCarville Report, which places dead last (even behind us!) in the Facebook likes category, manages to secure a solid third-place ranking in this category. Perplexing, especially given that TMR doesn’t have ANY social media widgets on its home page, nor even a link to tweet the story at the end of each article, despite the presence of several more obscure social media widgets (Sphinn, anyone?)

Followers: Fierce competition at the top

(in thousands) /@reddirtreportOK 37.0 / @TheLostOgle 34.4 / @OklahomaWatch 5.660 / @okiepolitics 1.700 / @readfrontier 1.681 / @McCarvilleReport 1.507 / @oxfordkarmamag 0.986 / @nondocmedia 0.640 / @FortySixNews 0.260


Despite the see-saw battle TLO and RDR have waged in the previous two categories, the pair find confluence in their Twitter followers, with only about 2,600 users creating the margin. When it comes to competition for followers, no one comes even close, with the third-place berth firmly occupied by Oklahoma Watch at about 5,700 followers. It should be noted that all three have social media links featured near the top of their home pages, which, if not actively encouraging engagement through those channels, most certainly facilitates it.

Following on Twitter: RDR leads, TLO falls off

Red Dirt Report /@reddirtreportOK 3,444
Oklahoma Watch / @OklahomaWatch 2,835
Frontier / @readfrontier 1,510
Oxford Karma (defunct) / @oxfordkarmamag 1,069
The Lost Ogle / @TheLostOgle 682
The Okie / @okiepolitics 609
McCarville Report / @McCarvilleReport 354
NonDoc / @nondocmedia 171
Forty-Six News / @FortySixNews 155


TLO’s reign of social media dominance falls off markedly in this category, with the satiric site ranking fifth out of the nine sites included in this study. Meanwhile, Oklahoma Watch makes its strongest showing yet at second place behind (you guessed it) RDR. Once again, there seems to be some sort of correlation between the number of followers an entity has and the number of Facebook likes they exhibit. In each part of the series except for the Tulsa TV market, the entity with the most Facebook likes also follows the most users on Twitter. Call it “social media goodwill,” but also don’t call it scientific analysis. Just a small trend.

The whole she-bang

Although I’m tempted to, in a very Oklahoma Watch-fashion, just hand over all the data and let you, the reader, draw your own conclusions, I find it much more helpful and useful to actually provide some sort of analysis or, at least, summation of all the data we have for this study, which is linked below as a spreadsheet for your downloading pleasure.

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Without a doubt, TV news in Oklahoma rules the social media landscape. Stations claim eight of the top-10 spots for Facebook likes, with only state-wide newspapers Tulsa World and The Oklahoma breaking into the upper 10 ranks. Outside of the top-10, it’s somewhat of a mixed bag, with RDR, the Gazette and TLO claiming spots 11 through 12, respectively.

In overall tweets, unlikely candidate @enidnews beats out KFOR for the ninth-place spot, and does so handily, by a margin of about 4,600. News stations once again fill every other top-10 opening, with @KTULNews dominating with over 102,000 tweets.

With regard to Twitter followers, the TV-station ranks break a bit further to allow one of The Oklahoman’s two handles (@NewsOK) to place a distant third behind leader @NEWS9. Meanwhile, Tulsa World, the Gazette, RDR and TLO all hold spots in the top 10.

Last, the TV stations fall off further, holding only four of the top-10 spots with regard to Twitter accounts followed. More marginal players Oklahoma Watch and The Norman Transcript manage to penetrate the top 10 in this category, but these standings could likely change soon and drastically if any one entity becomes motivated to start following any and every account they come across. After all, it could benefit their Facebook likes.

In conclusion …

What have we learned? Just some numbers, really. To be useful, much more examination of each category would be required. For example, Facebook likes can be bought, and the same goes for Twitter followers. In fact, there’s even a site that can audit the Twitter followers for any handle, so to be even somewhat vetted, data would need to be run through that application or something similar. Plus, one person may have multiple accounts, the data should be studied over time, yaddah yaddah yaddah. Science is hard.

At the end of the day, all we know for sure is NonDoc has work to do before beginning to compete with more established outlets in the particular categories of social media followers.

Onward to week seven!