memories of the moon
by Wayne Wood
Here are some things I know:
People love to look at pictures of their pets.
One Hundred Oaks is still a popular subject to read about.
And the story of Kaitlyn Lasitter, the girl injured at the Kentucky amusement park
and treated at VUMC, endures as the most popular Medical Center story of the year online.
House Organ has been on the Web since 2002, but in the past year or so we’ve been
able to measure, thanks to a free program called Google Analytics, what stories are the most popular, as well as other information about the way readers use the Web site.
As an old print guy, I have to say this is a really cool thing.
With a printed magazine or newspaper, you only know how many copies were printed and about how many reached readers.
Sure, sometimes a writer can tell whether readers really liked or didn’t like a particular story, either by polite and considered written response (“Dear writer, It is my polite and considered opinion that you are a jackass.”), or by spoken comments from loyal readers (“Hey, you! You’re a jackass!”)
But with Google Analytics, it’s possible to know things in more detail.
Such as, in the past year House Organ has had about 100,000 page views from just under 28,000 online readers. While about half of those readers are accessing the site from Vanderbilt computers, a lot of people are finding stories through Google or other search engines, or because of blogs or e-mails from friends.
There is a universe of readers out there of which only now are we learning the dimensions.
It turns out the most popular House Organ story of the past year (and also the most popular story on any Medical Center site) was the June feature on Kaitlyn Lasitter, which has been viewed by more than 8,000 readers online—most of them from outside Vanderbilt. Since I’m proud of the story and the work that writer Leslie Hast and photographer Dana Johnson did on it, getting thousands more readers than we ever would have gotten with the print version alone is a great bonus, as well as great PR for Vanderbilt.
And, as I said at the beginning, people like pet photos, and in February when the “Pets of the Medical Center” first came out, there was a huge spike in traffic from dog and cat lovers.
The feature from last December, “50 Questions about One Hundred Oaks” continues
to get a lot of readers long after its newsstand life was over, thanks to its presence online and the continuing interest in VUMC’s expansion into the former shopping mall.
We know that thousands of people have read Watching the Wheels, and that the winners and honorable mentions from the House Organ Writing Contest have reached readers far beyond the walls of our institution. Take it from me, writers tend to like having readers, and now we know we are reaching people.
When we told the story about Jon Jackson, the NICU nurse who had produced a music video at his trailer, we were able to link to the video, giving a dimension to the story than we never would have had before, and hundreds of people watched the video. If you missed it, check it out at
In the past year, House Organ’s Web site has had readers from 90 countries, including Malaysia (13 readers), Argentina (34) and Kyrgyzstan (one reader, and we thank you sir, or ma’am). Among foreign countries, House Organ is most popular in Canada, Germany and the UK.
 I never really thought much about foreign readers for House Organ—we were way more focused on reaching everybody in MRB IV—but in the past year we’ve had more readers in Paris, France (14), than in Paris, Tenn. (4). In fact, I’ve put in a proposal to open a bureau in Paris, France, which I plan to staff myself. I’ll let you know how that works out.
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