From a falling tree to mobile traffic records, a blockbuster 10 days at Breaking News

Our heads are still spinning after covering a double-punch of big stories, starting with Sandy and ending with election night.  One of our Breaking News editors even narrowly escaped serious injury — or worse — as Sandy slammed into Long Island:

But first, let’s take a look at the numbers.

Working around the clock, our editorial team posted nearly 3,000 updates on our mobile apps and over the last ten days, with about one-quarter of those appearing on Twitter.  For Sandy alone, we boiled down an avalanche of coverage to 1,012 real-time updates over several days, linking original, verified reports from hundreds of news organizations and eyewitnesses on the scene.

Breaking News’ mobile traffic soared 50% and downloads jumped 130% — setting a new record by a long shot — but even more interesting is the fact it skyrocketed over desktop traffic by a surprising 3-to-1 margin. We’re not just mobile-first anymore; we’re mobile-dominant.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising given the sea change of news consumption toward phones and tablets. Martin McClellan, our senior designer, says his 75 year-old mom is “hooked” on checking her iPhone for news.  She even blogged about her experience checking the Breaking News app in the middle of the night for election updates.   

"Come on, only people under thirty take their iPhones to bed with them," wrote Marilyn McClellan. "I’m am definitely not in that generation — but, there you have it, my confession!"

While mobile traffic surges, keep in mind that’s desktop traffic is no slouch, ranked #1 in Google for the search term “breaking news” and drawing a big spike during Sandy and the election.  But the increasingly old-fashioned desktop is no match for combined mobile app and web traffic, especially as tablet use continues to explode.

Through all of this, we can’t be more relieved that Lauren McCullough, our supervising editor, survived a terrifying experience when Sandy made landfall on Long Island. “A tree crashed through my parents’ living room where we were all sitting tonight,” she emailed us at 1 a.m. “The roof came down on us, but we’re all fine and were able to get out of the house.”

Lauren was able to communicate with us — and send us that amazing photo above — because she escaped with her iPhone. “Miraculously (or telling), I was holding my phone when the roof collapsed and the tree came in, and I must have kept a life grip on it,” she emailed. 

Mobile phones have becomes lifelines during big stories, both for people in the thick of the news and others experiencing it from afar.  At Breaking News, we’re invested in making the mobile experience the fastest, most reliable source of news when it matters most.

(Post by @corybe)

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