In September 2011, nearly ten years ago, Dr Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, on impulse, ‘mainly to explore the available technology’, he says, set up a blog on WordPress. It has since become a place to tell the stories of what goes on in Cork, Cloyne and Ross and it’s on target to reach one million ‘views’ this year. The NewsBlog, as he calls, it was named ‘churchofirelandcork’.
Now that NewsBlog, heading for its tenth birthday, and as Bishop Colton hands it over today to the new Diocesan Media and Information Technology Officer, Denise Brueckl, is heading for a significant milestone of one million ‘views’. ‘Views’ are different from ‘visitors’. A ‘view’ is counted by WordPress when a visitor loads or reloads a page. A ‘visitor’ is counted when WordPress sees a user or browser for the first time in a selected time frame, such as a day or a month or a year.
The NewsBlog started very tentatively in September 2011 with just 23 ‘views’ that month, and then 30 ‘views’ the following month. In the third month it went to 1200 ‘views’ and now, depending on the month it could be anything between 9,000 and 21,000 ‘views’ per month. In all there have been 918,363 ‘views’ and 320,294 different ‘visitors’ since 2011. ‘Actually’ said Bishop Paul ‘in the first two months there was an average of just one view per day – probably me myself! Now it can be anything between 250 and 700 a day.’ On one day in 2019 there were 8,521 ‘views’.
The most popular day is Friday – 19% of all ‘views’ are on that day. The most popular time of the day for a ‘view’ is 11.00 a.m. (8% of ‘views’). The NewsBlog connects also with Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Email, so that people can, themselves, share the news.
Visitors to the NewsBlog, while mainly from Ireland (about two-thirds) come from almost every part of the world, as seen in this map (the areas in pink show where visitors have come from):
The top ten counties for visitors are listed here:
At the other end of the list there are single or occasional views:
People also find their way to the NewsBlog through referrers such as Facebook, search engines and Twitter, along with dozens of others. It is possible to visit the NewsBlog and, at the bottom left, to put in your email address so that each post is emailed to you. The NewsBlog is HERE
‘I have always been interested in harnessing new technologies for the work of the Church’ says Bishop Colton:
I remember well, in the early 1990s, about two years after I first started using email, a senior clergyman in Dublin Diocese saying to me “I suppose you’ve one of those email things; it won’t really take off, you know, because everyone will have to have one.”
The late Dean Jack Shearer was one of the pioneers in all this and he bought me my first computer in 1987 when I was his curate. In those days you had to insert and remove floppy disks when you wanted to do simple things like change text to italics or bold. He was a man ahead of his time in so many ways.
With a parishioner in the early 1990s – Craig McCauley, now an Archdeacon – we also set up what must have been one of the first, if not the first parish website in Ireland. And so, as the journey rapidly unfolded I found myself – self-taught with the support of like-minded people – on a technological journey that, in the early part of this century, led to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, as well as this NewsBlog.
I see it all, ultimately, as one element supporting the first of the ‘Five Marks of Mission’: ‘To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom’.
The NewsBlog supports that by showing what Christians are doing and responding to where they are. It is a modern way of creating a sense of shared purpose, identity and belonging and also serves a purpose when we have to respond to tragedies or sad news in our midst also.
Now I am delighted to be handing it all over to the new and capable hands of Denise Brueckl who is our new Diocesan Media and Information Technology Officer. I wish her well today as she starts this new post and as I pass on all those ‘logins’ and ‘passwords’ to her.