As 2018 nears its end, we’re pleased to present you with this year-end review. It’s been a year of growth for National Parks Traveler, the only website dedicated to daily editorial coverage of national parks and protected areas the world over.
Unfortunately, there has been continued shrinkage in the media industry — about 20 percent of all metro and community newspapers in the United States, some 1,800, have gone out of business or merged since 2004, according to a University of North Carolina study. That’s left more than 1,300 communities without local coverage.
Against this backdrop, the Traveler is focused on bringing more attention to news and features about national parks and protected areas. That coverage nourishes, unites, and informs a national community of national park enthusiasts and outdoor lovers on the health, management, and future of the parks and their resources, both natural and cultural. The Traveler also provides a national channel of communications for businesses and organizations that are connected to the parks.
While a change in Google’s algorithm stalled site traffic growth in 2017, Traveler rebounded in 2018 thanks to an investment in Search Engine Optimization, greater social media reach, and increased recognition by the general public of the site’s value. Through October site traffic was up 11.3 percent YTD, new users were up 13 percent, active sessions were up 13 percent, and pageviews were up 10.5 percent to nearly 2 million.
With the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2018, Traveler produced a 10-part series on the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog confronting the National Park Service. The series, unmatched by other media, described how this backlog impacts the safety of visitors and employees, how historic structures are affected, how visitor access is being restricted, and much more.
Our growth on Apple News continued, with more than 32,000 active monthly users on board through October. This audience is in addition to the ~100,000 monthly visitors directly to the website, and offers a great portal for increased growth and sponsorship opportunities.
Traveler also gained membership in the Institute for Nonprofit News, an organization dedicated to support of nonprofit media organizations. More than 150 organizations are members, including the Alicia Patterson Foundation, Center for Investigative Reporting, Center for Public Integrity, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, High Country News, Mongabay, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, and dozens others.
Our INN membership brings access to collaboration with other members, industry insights, new technology, and ongoing training to ensure journalistic integrity. As traditional media outlets (newspapers and magazines) continue to shrink, this is a very strategic move to help ensure our ongoing daily and feature coverage of parks.
Traveler in 2018 also was honored with the George B. Hartzog, Jr. Award from the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks for its work raising awareness of the challenges facing national parks, and creating a dialogue about preserving them for future generations.
Looking ahead to 2019, Traveler will continue to grow its coverage through a stable of freelancers based in California, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Florida. Concerted efforts are underway to secure additional revenue streams to underwrite this work.
The quarterly Essential Guides are taking a hiatus. While the full-color guides are handsome and without peer in their content, far and away most readers consume this content on the Traveler website. The hiatus does not mean a reduction in coverage or content. Rather, content that would go into the Essential Guides will be presented directly on the Traveler website.
The financial resources that have been committed to producing these digital guides is being invested directly into generating content and refining the website experience.
Thank you for your interest in National Parks Traveler and the important work we do. We’re working hard to make this next year even more productive, and look forward to continuing our relationship.
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