What Research on ‘Measurable Journalism’ Tells Us About Tech, Cultural Shifts in Digital Media


This post is by Elia Powers from MediaShift


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Matt Carlson, Associate Professor at St. Louis University

Matt Carlson, an associate professor of communication at Saint Louis University, was set to announce a collaborative research project that would “connect a lot of dots surrounding news metrics and digital distribution platforms.” He wanted to examine journalism’s embrace of real-time audience data by shining a spotlight on “all the different actors involved, from reporters and editors and news management to engineers and salespersons at data analytic firms to the audience on the other end.” But first, he needed to find a term that tied everything together. “Measurable journalism” was the solution. In a special issue of the academic journal Digital Journalism, “Measurable Journalism: Digital Platforms, News Metrics, and the Quantified Audience,” nine researchers explore the implications of these technological and cultural shifts. Carlson, who edited the special issue and wrote an introductory essay, “Confronting Measurable Journalism
?
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How WhereBy.Us Will Track Impact of Local Media


This post is by Jason Alcorn from MediaShift


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In December, Alexandra Smith joined WhereBy.Us as its first growth editor. The growing company, which uses the slogan, “Live like you live here,” and has 24 employees, currently runs local media sites in Miami and Seattle as well as a creative studio. And it just launched an impact tracker internally. It’s notable as one of the first times commercial media has embraced impact tracking as a strategy for marketing and growth. For local news organizations, tracking impact is a way to tie journalism’s value to revenue. Impact trackers can help show readers how news works and source powerful messaging for membership or subscription campaigns. Thirty-one percent of recent subscribers to local newspapers subscribed because they wanted to support local journalism, according to the Media Insight Project. Gannett, where Smith worked before joining WhereBy.Us, recently launched an internal impact tracker, and LION Publishers is now offering investigative reporting Continue reading "How WhereBy.Us Will Track Impact of Local Media"

7 Tips to Get Better Newsletter Metrics


This post is by Jason Alcorn from MediaShift


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Last week, MediaShift hosted an online panel on how to get better newsletter metrics. The topic was one of our most popular — for good reason. Newsletters are proving to be a reliable and measurable way for publishers to connect directly with readers. We can’t forget that email is still a platform, but at least it’s one with open standards and a higher degree of control for both sender and recipient. The New York Times’ Lindsey Goddard, Greentech Media’s Brady Pierce and Parse.ly’s Clare Carr generously shared their expertise. Watch the video here or scroll down for seven of their best tips for how to get better newsletter metrics. 1. Segment your audience. Newsletters feel personal, like a one-to-one communication. Or at least they should. By segmenting your audience and developing email products that deliver on a unique, targeted value proposition, you are likely to have the greatest success. 2. Continue reading "7 Tips to Get Better Newsletter Metrics"

How The Financial Times Uses Reader Feedback To Launch And Test New Features


This post is by Monica Todd and Moshe Raphaely from MediaShift


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Monica Todd and Moshe Raphaely of the Financial Times

Last year, the Financial Times reached a milestone — 900,000 paying subscriptions. The company has used a paywall on its website FT.com since 2002, long before it became a must-have for news outlets outside financial media. As a media business reliant on reader revenue, it’s been important that we track usage behavior. Those metrics help our product and news teams to understand what readers are doing and the different outcomes of those journeys. Over the past few years, we’ve relied on user feedback as part of our toolkit to provide context and further understanding on readers habits and what they value. Users can provide feedback to our team in multiple ways — an annual customer survey, qualitative interviews, customer services, on-site feedback form. Using user feedback to enhance the overall FT.com user experience has led us to create new
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Why Scroll Depth Is A Key Metric for Individual Pages and Article Formats


This post is by Andrew Sweeney from MediaShift


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With thousands of media projects and publications competing for attention, it’s never been more crucial for publishers in search of an audience to serve up both quantity and quality. Except for niche publications, most publishers have to produce a generous amount of content each month. But within volume publishing, how effectively individual pieces of content and individual formats perform matters too. One of these crucial quality measures for individual pieces of content and content formats is readability, often called scroll depth. Readability measures how thoroughly your audience digests your content by tracking where most people finish reading each individual article. You can’t track it in Google Analytics without a plugin, but some commercial analytics providers offer it as a feature. For digital publishers, two aspects of readability make it worth your attention. First, it accurately gauges the quality of your content by measuring one aspect of user engagement. Second, it
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What Movie Will You See This Weekend? That Depends On Where You Live


This post is by Clare Carr from MediaShift


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A version of this article was originally published on the Parse.ly blog. What do people do before they go see a movie? The movie industry tries to answer this question through proxies employed by marketers: surveys, data on past successes, search data, and more recently social media listening or interaction tools. Given Parse.ly’s dataset of billions of internet visitors per month to the largest media properties in the world, we thought we’d try to visualize actual reader attention, as measured by page views, for movies. We removed the need for online audiences to take an action in order to measure their behavior and instead focused on information they’re taking in.

What happens when you remove the need for proxies and focus on actual attention?

To start, we examined the amount of attention a movie receives in the media and the correlation to box office success. In the scatterplot
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Who Gets The Most Traffic Among Conservative Websites?


This post is by Howard Polskin from MediaShift


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Beginning every morning, I aggregate opinion and reporting from more than a dozen right-leaning websites for my website TheRighting and its companion newsletter. My goal is to inform the middle and left to the thinking and voices from the right (and far right). For those of you, like myself, who woke up November 9, 2016, and wondered how the country landed in what seemed to be an alternative universe, these websites provide a rich trove of clues. My daily visits have led me to wonder about the size of their audiences as well as whether those audiences were getting bigger or smaller. And so, working with data from SimilarWeb, I began to track the number of monthly visits for the top 20 conservative sites, including juggernauts like FoxNews.com, Breitbart and Infowars; publications like The National Review and The Washington Times; and smaller publishers like Spero News and NewsBusters. (See
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How Charities And Non-Profits Succeed On Social Media


This post is by Benedict Nicholson from MediaShift


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A version of this article was originally published on the NewsWhip blog. It’s not just brands and publishers that are competing for our ever-diminishing attention spans on social media. Charities and non-profits are also vying for the same audience eyes, despite their different way of working. At NewsWhip, we decided to look at what these charities and non-profits, including some of the big United Nations programs, are doing to maintain their social presence and win on social. To do this, we looked at various aspects of social performance, including earned media, owned media and social content, across several of the world’s largest and most ubiquitous social-good organizations.

Engagement on articles about the groups

For our purposes here, we define earned media as articles written about the non-profit. In terms of content written about these groups, the most covered in the press were TED, Unesco, and Unicef. TED, the non-profit whose
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The Growing Impact of Local Non-Profit Investigative Journalism in 2017


This post is by Brad Racino from MediaShift


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Click the image to read our entire series.

Investigative non-profit journalism is flourishing this year, likely because it is top of mind for so many people. Media credibility is in the spotlight, and those of us who dig deep into uncomfortable places and ask for our reader’s trust by being unbiased and fact-driven feel it shining especially brightly. New York-based ProPublica, one of the country’s most high-profile non-profit newsrooms, opened a regional bureau in Chicago with a team of 12 reporters, editors and technologists. In Vermont, the non-profit VTDigger has become the country’s largest investigative reporting non-profit focused on local or state news. And at inewsource in San Diego, we’re projected to reach $1.1 million in revenue this fiscal year — our most successful year yet. inewsource’s small but versatile team of reporters covers a variety of topics but focuses on four: education, health, the environment and local
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How Media Makers Can Plan Engagement That Inspires Real Change


This post is by Laurie Trotta Valenti from MediaShift


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A version of this article was originally published on the Media Impact Project blog. How does a documentary series inspire real social change? A case study by the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Media Impact Project illustrates how a 2016 series first broadcast before the 2016 election was used to reinvigorate progressive groups in the election’s aftermath. For media makers intent on social impact, it’s a story with important lessons for how to plan engagement that makes a difference. America Divided is an Epix documentary series that aired in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election and is now streaming on Amazon and Hulu. Its producers conducted an innovative engagement campaign to spur action against social injustice, and invited MIP to determine if their documentary series inspired real social change. What we found was that documentarians can use innovative engagement campaigns to rally the public to action long after
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How Slippery Rock University is Converging its Student Media


This post is by Brittany Fleming and Mark Zeltner from MediaShift


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Newsroom convergence in higher education is an often-elusive task that’s been studied for nearly 20 years. At Slippery Rock University, we are in the earliest stages of introducing convergence with our two student-run news organizations: The Rocket newspaper and WSRU-TV. After an immense amount of research and two conference circuits, we’ve learned one thing is certain: discourse surrounding convergence is alive and thriving, but the term itself often results in head shakes and shoulder shrugs. In academia, our equivocal understanding of how to successfully converge student media is because every case of convergence is unique, making it nearly impossible to find one blanket “convergence formula” every university can adopt. Whether or not you can relate to what we’ve experienced at Slippery Rock University, convergence efforts do have one thing in common: our organizations are nothing without people. If we fail to consider the people involved in implementing newsroom convergence:
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The Long View of Headline Writing: Where Art Meets Science


This post is by Terri Walter and Nalini Edwin from MediaShift


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It’s that time of year again, when media grows reflective and retrospective. Across the industry, headlines begin to take the long view. Everywhere we look, we see lookbacks, best-of and worst-of lists, roundups, and other invitations to the year-in-review. This ritual offers an important point about headlines — one worth paying attention to. After all, headlines are the fundamental link between content and the people who consume it, connecting reader to reading material whether in print or online. While digital technology has rewrought media production both visually and existentially, the central purpose of headlines hasn’t changed all that much from the days of hot type. “The job of a headline is to get people to read the article in a manner that is true to the story,” wrote Mark Bulik, The New York Times’ senior editor for digital headlines, earlier this year. He then added: “[M]aking sure we’re giving people
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How a Project on Underground Music Went Analog to Increase Engagement


This post is by Kristine Villanueva from MediaShift


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This article was originally published on Medium. Trying is hard. I should know. I’ve been toiling over my practicum project at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism for the past year. I’m working with the D.I.Y or underground music scene in the greater New York City area. This community convenes — and sometimes even lives — in abandoned warehouses and factories that were illegally converted into galleries and venues. The D.I.Y scene is closely related to punk culture and shies away from mainstream influences. This community also acts as a safe haven for traditionally marginalized groups like the LGBTQ community, undocumented immigrants, women and people of color. Their willingness to collaborate, passion for social justice issues and ability to organize and start grassroots movements is what separates them from other independent artists like YouTubers or buskers. During the year, I focused on ways to incorporate people
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Assessing The Impact Of Explanatory Journalism


This post is by Anjanette Delgado from MediaShift


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This article was originally published by the Media Impact Project. Journalists don’t as a rule have a specific impact in mind when we begin our journalism. We list project goals, but other than bringing awareness to an issue or event we do not identify what we’d like to see happen next. This is a story about the one time we did. Rockland County, just northwest of Manhattan, is one of New York’s fastest growing counties. Neighborhoods that used to feel suburban and bucolic now choke with high-density sprawl, multi-family homes rise in backyards next door, traffic is a problem and religious schools pop up on residential streets. This is the lede of our story for the Journal News and lohud.com: “A generation ago, there were few problems between Ramapo’s small ultra-religious Jewish communities and the gentiles and other Jews who made up the bulk of the town’s population. Things
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3 Ways to Use Customer Research In Newsroom Decision-Making


This post is by Alyssa Zeisler from MediaShift


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Many newsroom analytics deal with quantitative data — pageviews, time on page, retention, etc — and find meaning by looking at these numbers at scale and over time. And while quantitative is excellent at explaining what is happening, it cannot necessarily explain why something is happening. Customer research — in the shape of interviews, focus groups and surveys — is an important tool to deepen your understanding of your audience and learn about their motivations, habits, and relationship to your content. At the Financial Times, we use both types of information regularly in our newsroom to improve our understanding of a particular audiences and to develop specific strategies to grow reach and loyalty. Here we want to share three times we’ve used customer research to make better decisions around editorial, product and audience development. The lessons we learned doing this work aren’t unique to the FT, though — there are
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How to Ask Better Questions About Newsroom Analytics


This post is by Alyssa Zeisler from MediaShift


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When it comes to using data in the newsroom, spending a few minutes to structure your thinking before diving into a data set can make all the difference in getting actionable results afterwards. At the Financial Times, our data team fields questions from individual reporters, news desks, the audience engagement team, and managers from all parts of the business. To manage that intake and ensure data is effectively used, the team uses a Google form to help those making the request think through what they are asking for. It includes two simple, yet absolutely critical, prompts:
  1. What is the question you are trying to answer?
  2. What action(s)/decision(s) will be driven by the answer?

It’s our job to help others in the newsroom

Without a doubt, this is an excellent starting point for any good data query (which is any question that can be answered with analytics). But using
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Harvard Experiment Finds Large Effects From Small News Outlets


This post is by Jason Alcorn from MediaShift


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Even small publishers have a large effect on the national discourse, according to a new paper published in Science on the effects of news. “Exposure to the news media,” the study states, “causes Americans to take public stands on specific issues, join national policy conversations, and express themselves publicly.” The research aims to quantify the effect of news media. Put in terms that are increasingly common when talking about journalism: What is the impact of news organizations? The study by Harvard professor Gary King and collaborators found that a few, mostly small news outlets publishing simultaneously in a broad area of public policy concern increased the volume of conversation on social media by 19 percent the day after publication. Over a full week, the volume was increased 63 percent relative to the average day’s volume. The number of unique authors increased as well, and the composition of opinion changed in Continue reading "Harvard Experiment Finds Large Effects From Small News Outlets"

Why Quality Journalism Matters When We Talk About Honoring Veterans


This post is by Josh Stearns from MediaShift


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Ahead of Veterans Day, News Match 2017 — the largest-ever grassroots campaign to strengthen non-profit journalism across the United States — is shining a spotlight on journalists and newsrooms whose work has lifted up critical issues impacting veterans and their families. News Match is doubling donations to these organizations, and more than 100 others, between now and the end of the year. You can support quality reporting on veterans issues by visiting www.newsmatch.org. “Every Veterans Day, Americans come together to recognize the sacrifice and valor of our veterans throughout the country,” said Sue Cross, executive director and CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News. “Non-profit news organizations do this daily through their groundbreaking reporting—ensuring our nation lives up to our commitment to those who have served.” From Colorado to Connecticut the stories below remind us of the incredible sacrifices veterans have made, and the powerful role journalists Continue reading "Why Quality Journalism Matters When We Talk About Honoring Veterans"

‘Trust in News’ Study Shows More Trust for Print Publications Than Digital


This post is by Ian Gibbs from MediaShift


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Trust is the topic that won’t go away. On either side of the pond, leaders with very different temperaments are dealing with issues of declining trust in very different ways. Whatever their differences, however, the knock-on effect to mainstream media — tacitly held responsible for failing to fully represent shifting public sentiment when they aren’t being openly lambasted — has been profound. Or has it? A new global research study from Kantar entitled “Trust in News” has lifted the lid on attitudes to news media among 8,000 news consumers in the U.S., U.K., France and Brazil. Key findings of the study include:

ICJF Study: Global Newsrooms Are Falling Behind in Analytics


This post is by Jason Alcorn from MediaShift


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A few weeks ago the International Center for Journalists released the first-ever State of Technology in Global Newsrooms report, based on a survey of more than 2,700 journalists and newsroom managers in 130 countries. The survey was conducted in 12 languages. After it sat on my desk, printed out, for almost a month, I finally had a chance to read it this weekend and want to pull out some of the report’s findings on analytics, which will be especially interesting to regular readers of MetricShift, because they confirm many of the trends and research we’ve covered here but suggest where we can pay closer attention to the global relationship between newsrooms and newsroom data. The report states: “Are journalists keeping pace with the digital revolution? Despite great strides in leveraging new technologies, we conclude that the answer is no.” In the field of news metrics specifically, that conclusion
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