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EDITOR'S BLOG: The curious case of Irene Jewhurst, Croydon's 'next Kate Moss'

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WE'RE in the process - as I hope you've noticed - of making some significant changes to our website and digital coverage. With this in mind, I've become a bit of a stats nerd in recent times. What do people want to read online? What type of stories are going to get us those magical hits? In this game of 'hit or bust' the following subjects seem, in no particular order, to do pretty well; football, surveys saying Croydon is great, surveys saying Croydon is a dump, mugshots of criminals, The Crystal Girls, celebs (especially Kate Moss), pretty ladies. As an aside, it's becoming increasingly clear to me why the Mail Online does so well. We news snobs (of which I used to be one) might dismiss stories about Kerry Katona's (or Cantona, as my mum calls her) latest trip to Iceland or Kim Kardashian's belly button as trivial pap but, I've got news for you guys - people read this stuff. And I've got the stats to prove it. With all this in mind, it's perhaps not surprising our story about Irene Jewhurst, 'Croydon's new Kate Moss' has done well. It ticks quite a few of the above boxes even though, essentially, it's a relatively short tale about a modelling contest. What is surprising, however, is the sheer volume of hits this story has received. For the past seven days, this has been the most popular story on not just the Croydon website but our 100+ network of sites up and down the country. We haven't seen this level of interest since a drunk guy got down to some funny business with an ambulance in North Devon a few months' back. Yesterday, for instance, our hero Irene attracted 12,000 page views - about four times as many as the next most-read story (about football, naturally). And this trend has been repeated over several days, it's not just a one-off hit. Even stranger, the number of 'uniques' (individual page viewers) seems to be high. This isn't just one person clicking the story 500 times an hour, the fan club appears to run more deeply. So is it a Kate Moss thing? Maybe, though other Moss stories on the site have done well - but not this well. Even a piece about the supermodel getting her kit off yesterday barely registered compared to Irene's viral tale. So is South Norwood's next top model a PR genius? Again, it wouldn't appear so. I've been in contact with Irene and she's as puzzled as anyone else about Jewhurst-mania. Very happy, I think, but quite possibly a bit freaked out by the whole thing too. I should point out that Irene is a lovely young woman and the story itself is a heartwarming human interest tale - about a local girl made good, inspired by her beloved grandfather's illness. But even Irene would probably admit it isn't Watergate. As the editor of a local newspaper, I'm paid to 'smell what sells' or, in the case of the website, understand what will get us the hits. But in this case, I'm utterly stumped your honour. Still, next time I'm looking to boost visitor numbers to our website, I know what to do. As Dexy's Midnight Runners (almost) once sang, Come On Irene...

EDITOR'S BLOG: The curious case of Irene Jewhurst, Croydon's 'next Kate Moss'


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