Betsy O’Donovan and Melody Kramer interviewed two dozen journalists and data analysts across 20 organizations, hunting for practices that are broad enough to be useful to most newsrooms, but specific enough that they provide at least a basic blueprint. Here’s what they found:
The newsrooms that are most effective at using metrics are the ones that help journalists understand which metrics they can control and how — and how that fits into the organization’s overall success.
Having regular conversations with journalists about what the numbers are showing and why is the best way to build data savvy in the newsroom.
Newsrooms should do regular gut checks to see if focusing on a particular metric is having the desired effect on the bottom line. For example, does trying to increase newsletter opens or page views actually help convert readers into subscribers, if driving subscriptions is the overarching goal?
Metrics should be viewed as an opportunity for experimentation, rather than a report card measuring a journalist’s performance. Newsrooms that celebrate success and analyze failures in a constructive way help drive journalists’ natural curiosity and dispel any distrust around metrics.
More training on Audience Engagement:
Putting metrics to use on your beat
What does success look like? How do you translate what your metrics are telling you into story ideas or deeper insights into what your audience is seeking – both for premium content and reaching new readers with top of funnel content?
Understanding our key audience segments
Gannett has done extensive research into people interested in news — those who are in our audience today as well as those who aren’t — so we can better understand who we’re working for. These documents and workshops will help you understand the segments, what members of each segment want from us, and how we can earn them as subscribers.
Community engagement for underserved communities
Q&A conversation about best practices, challenges and outcomes that emerge from engaging and including different communities in our conversations, newsletters and content.
News values and judgment
We tackle the fundamentals of what makes a story newsworthy, the essential practices of journalists and the shared values that differentiate journalism from other forms of content and storytelling.