Compete: Twitter Passes New York Times

Last Updated Apr 7, 2009 3:32 PM EDT

Before dismissing this comparison as one of those apples-and-oranges deals, take a moment to think about it. Literally out of nowhere, the little micro-blogging platform that constrains your messaging to 140 characters or less, is, according to, this very month passing the august, as measured by numbers of unique visitors.

Yes, Twitter grew by 76.8 percent in March, attracting 14,031,985 people, to break into the Top 100 sites, as calculated by the metrics service. Debuting at #72 on the list, the Twittersphere is expanding so rapidly now that it is a sure bet to rise much higher by the end of April, and every month hereafter for quite a while.

In comparison, the old grey lady maintains her position by most measurements as the leading newspaper website with 16,674,238 visitors, holding down spot #58 on the Top 100 List. The Times showed a 3.7 growth rate for the month, and a reasonable 22.1 percent annual growth rate, though that pales next to Twitter's current AGR of 1,202.2 percent.

The Times is getting plenty of advice from all comers these days, so I'll refrain from drawing any of the lessons it might learn from Twitter, but I will mention in passing that the CEO of Reuters spoke out last night, raising the question of why does the Times still need 6-700 journalists? Tom Glocer, chief executive of Thomson Reuters, is quoted by Gillian Reagan of the New York Observer, as arguing that newspapers like The Times should trim costs and focus their coverage. "That view that 'I am The New York Times and I do everything'--I think that's not the best way to run a newspaper," he said.

Meanwhile, Tweet by Tweet, asuming Compete has its data trends right, that little bird is fluttering right past The Times on the web's list of top sites, and you might say, leaving the old business modelers wondering, "What exactly was that thing that just blew by us, anyway? A bird, a plane, or..."

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital,, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.