Thanks a million!

You love us, you really love us.

No, not you, reader of the print edition of The Citizen. We already know how much you love us, with your continuing support of a paid daily newspaper in Prince George.

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This other affection comes from online, where so many people now go in search of news (and love). Through desktop computers and mobile devices, The Citizen's website recorded 1,168,785 page views in October. That means the stories on our website were read, in whole or part, nearly 1.2 million times.

Those page views came from 558,293 individual visits to our website, meaning that each time someone came to for news, they usually read slightly more than two stories, spending an average of one minute and 21 seconds with each story.

There were 256,399 unique visitors to our website in October, but that really means more than a quarter of a million unique devices.

An individual could read The Citizen on his or her work computer, home computer and smartphone and that would count as three unique visitors. Still, all of those numbers point to The Citizen as Prince George's preferred and trusted source of local news.

The 1.2 million page views last month was the first time we crossed one million in almost three years and it was our second highest month ever. In January 2016, we squeaked past one million (1,011,612). Our other three months higher than a million happened in March, May and July of 2014, with March holding the record at 1,365,568.

Looking back at last month, the municipal election obviously boosted our numbers but there was more interest in our coverage of the ongoing problem with discarded needles, proportional representation and the legalization of marijuana.

The biggest draw was the pipeline explosion north of the city.

In January 2016, there were also some pretty big stories making news. The first Syrian refugee famllies were arriving in Prince George, there were several high-profile court cases and Northern Gateway's fate was still undecided. It was a tragic month, with the deaths of David Bowie and Glenn Frey, plus popular local teacher, coach and athlete Matt Pearce was mourned by his family and many friends. Meanwhile, an avalanche in McBride killed five people.

The biggest single online story that month generated a wave of outrage just from the headline: "Man jailed for getting 11-year-old pregnant."

Going back to March 2014, when The Citizen nearly hit 1.4 million page views, the demise of the city's core services review, a therapy dog that died protecting its family from a bear and a story about a local baby born with a rare skin condition where even the slightest bit of friction caused painful blisters attracted plenty of traffic. People were also demanding inquiries into the deadly Burns Lake sawmill blast and missing and murdered Indigenous women. Sadly, that was the month two well-respected local women - Bea Dezell and Maryanne Arcand - passed away.

The biggest story that month was the sale of the Prince George Cougars. The Citizen's Ted Clarke broke the story at the beginning of the month and followed it up with several other stories confirming the plans with members of the ownership group before the Brodsky family finally announced the deal.

What those months and those stories show is how much local residents care about accurate, reliable and timely local news.

When people ask us how the newspaper is doing (they often do it in a low, gentle voice of concern, as if they're asking about dear Aunt Mertle who is on life support), we tell them more people are reading us than ever. Audience and readers has never been a problem. The challenge, of course, in the Google and Facebook world, is advertising revenue.

While many newspapers have closed, many others are thriving, especially online. In the age of Trump, the Washington Post and the New York Times have seen a huge increase in online traffic and digital subscriptions. Closer to home, The Citizen's corporate owner, Glacier Media, and our sister publications in B.C. and Western Canada remain profitable due to strong, steady management.

At The Citizen, we continue to adapt and evolve, to serve our readers and advertisers in a variety of formats, from print to online to specialty magazines to special events. And we've got more changes in store that we'll announce this month to give Prince George the news source it deserves.

So thanks for the love, readers, in print and online. We appreciate the trust you've put in us and we'll work hard every day to keep earning it.

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout

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