My Kentucky Derby coverage roundup | Zach Everson

My Kentucky Derby coverage roundup

Watching Kentucky Derby 136 from the roof of Churchill Downs, mint julep in hand.

Watching Kentucky Derby 136 from the roof of Churchill Downs, mint julep in hand, one of the rare moments when I wasn’t tethered to my MacBook Pro.

And I’m spent.

The seven days leading up to the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting week of the year in Louisville. But it was also the most exhausting.

As editor-in-chief, I oversaw‘s coverage of the city’s signature event. We had five writers (including me) at Churchill Downs for the Derby and also dispatched writers to 10 of the city’s biggest Derby parties (I reported from the Playboy Celebrity Lounge–funny how that gig fell to the person making the assignments). Our treatment of the parties included a preview of each one the day before, live updates to our Twitter feed and Facebook fan page with photos from the event (yes, using and a review the following day.

At Churchill Downs, two of’s writers focused on the races, one covered the infield and other lifestyle stories and one contributed live sketches. Our cartoonist was walking around Churchill Downs, drawing in her notepad and snapping pictures of her finished work on her cell phone, which she then e-mailed to me to post for her on the website. Unfortunately a technical problem caused many of the sketches not to arrive in my e-mail inbox until 11 p.m. Regardless, it was a different way of reporting on an event that draws so much media attention and was well received.

As for my writing, 2010 is the 40th anniversary of Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,” in which the Louisville native birthed gonzo journalism at the track in his hometown. My plan was to take passages from his article and see how they stand up 40 years later, posting live throughout Derby day. Alas, had two technical glitches (the influx of traffic led the site to briefly crash twice and the RSS feed from the site to our Facebook fan page done broke). Those issues, along with my responsibility for posting the cartoons, promoting the other articles online, answering questions from the writers and following up with PR reps on party credentials kept me mostly tethered to my computer in the media center. I did manage to post a bunch of articles though, mostly of photos, and take notes for the Thompson piece, which I’ll either run as a feature on or a series of smaller posts (granted it was pre-Internet, but Thompson’s Derby article wasn’t published until a month after the race either).

The results? Traffic for blew up. The site had its seven best days ever in terms of visits, getting triple it’s non-Derby week best on race day itself. We also increased our fans on Facebook by more than 10 percent that week, which should lead to sustained growth in that all-important local audience. While we attracted more non-local traffic than usual because of Derby, Louisvillians flocked to the site–the average visitor from the city spent 4:44 on the site, reading 3.93 pages a visit. Between the festivities at Churchill, the parties and other Derby-related events, posted more than 150 articles about the Kentucky Derby in the past three weeks, as well as several hundred Tweets and updates to our Facebook fan page.

And as if that wasn’t enough work Derby week, I wrote a couple of posts for both BlackBook magazine’s website and Gridskipper. For BlackBook, I interviewed two Derby insiders. And for Gridskipper, I wrote about where to score two essentials: good food and easy sex.

Check below the jump for the complete list of articles I’ve written on the 2010 Kentucky Derby (so far).



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