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The tale of former CIA staffer Edward Snowden and a top-secret NSA surveillance program known as PRISM has captivated much of North America — and even spilled over into Europe — since the story first broke in June. While that frenzy of interest has raised all kinds of questions about national security, privacy and “access journalism,” it has also sharply boosted the profile of The Guardian, the British newspaper whose blogger-journalist, Glenn Greenwald, has led much of the reporting on the PRISM story and its aftermath.
According to new figures provided exclusively to The Atlantic, the website for The Guardian (please see disclosure below) set a one-day traffic record on June 10 — the day after Snowden revealed his identity to the newspaper — by attracting close to 7 million unique visitors. That’s equivalent to almost 20 percent of the traffic The Guardian usually gets in an entire month.
On that same day, the paper’s U.S. traffic was also higher than its U.K. traffic for the first time ever, the Atlantic says, based on internal analytics provided to the magazine. In just the week following the release of the Snowden documents, the Guardian’s overall U.S. traffic had climbed by more than 40 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.
As the Atlantic notes, that kind of growth puts the Guardian even closer to bumping the New York Times out of its spot as the second-largest English-language newspaper website in the world:
“The number one spot has been occupied since last January by the Mail Online, an industrial-sized feedbag of celebrity titillation and gossip, with a ComScore rating of 50.2 million monthly unique visitors worldwide for May. Currently in at number two is The New York Times, with 46.2 million. Snapping at its heels is The Guardian: it had 40.9 million last month.”
Janine Gibson, who runs the Guardian‘s New York-based U.S. operation, said that the paper plans to build on its latest success by adding more opinion writers, more reporters and expanding coverage into new verticals. She also said that what helped the Guardian grow its audience in the U.S. before the Snowden story came along was the paper’s focus on real-time reporting of breaking news such as the Occupy movement.
Disclosure: Guardian News & Media is an investor in the parent company of GigaOM/paidContent
Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr user George Kelly