As I introduce the day I will be thinking about two pieces of data in particular: research by the Tow Center’s Caitlin Petre into the use of Chartbeat; and Checking, Sharing, Clicking and Linking, a piece of research into consumption. Continue reading
What do you do when you’ve been using a hashtag for some time and another one comes along with the potential to be more popular? Do you jump on board – or do you stick with the hashtag you’ve built up? How do you measure the best hashtag to use for your work?
That’s the question that a team of my undergraduate journalism students at Birmingham City University faced last month. And here’s how they addressed it.
First, some background: in February this year the students launched their election coverage under the hashtag #brumvote.
The hashtag worked well – it took in everything from BuzzFeed-style listicles to hustings liveblogs and data-driven analysis of local MPs’ expenses and voting patterns.
Then last month a similar hashtag appeared: the BBC launched their own youth-targeting election project, with the hashtag #brumvotes.
At this point the students faced 3 choices:
- Keep using the #brumvote hashtag
- Adopt the new #brumvotes hashtag
- Use both
Last year I decided to require my students to submit analytics as part of all their online journalism work. One of the tools that I recommended was Twittercounter.
The free version of Twittercounter does something very simple: it shows you a chart comparing two of three metrics: your followers, your volume of tweets, or the number of people you are following.
It’s not completely accurate, but its simplicity does something very important: it focuses your attention on whether your use of social media has any impact, on one metric at least: the size of your audience.
Of course followers is only one metric – I’ll write in a future post about other metrics and other ways of measuring those – but the ease with which Twittercounter works makes it as good a place as any for aspiring students to begin exploring the importance of measurement in modern journalism.
By way of example, here are 11 charts which show how a simple tool like Twittercounter can illustrate what you’re going right as a journalist – and where you can improve. Continue reading
If you want to know how to test what works in social media, the Office for National Statistics have put together one of the best pieces I’ve seen on the topic. Continue reading
Most research on news consumption annoys me. Most research on news consumption – like Pew’s State of the News Media – relies on surveys of people self-reporting how they consume news. But surveys can only answer the questions that they ask. And as any journalist with a decent bullshit detector should know: the problem is people misremember, people forget, and people lie.
The most interesting news consumption research uses ethnography: this involves watching people and measuring what they actually do – not what they say they do. To this end AP’s 2008 report A New Model for News is still one of the most insightful pieces of research into news consumption you’ll ever read – because it picks out details like the role that email and desktop widgets play, or the reasons why people check the news in the first place (they’re bored at work, for example).
Now six years on two Dutch researchers have published a paper summarising various pieces of ethnographic and interview-based consumption research (£) over the last decade – providing some genuine insights into just how varied news ‘consumption’ actually is.
Irene Costera Meijer and Tim Groot Kormelink‘s focus is not on what medium people use, or when they use it, but rather on how engaged people are with the news.
To do this they have identified 16 different news consumption practices which they give the following very specific names:
Below is my attempt to summarise those activities, why they’re important for journalists and publishers, and the key issues they raise for the way that we publish. Continue reading
In a cross-post for OJB originally published on The Conversation, Neil Thurman argues that his recent research that suggests current news industry metrics underplay the importance of print reading time.
Figures published recently suggest that more than 90% of newspaper reading still happens in print. This might come as a surprise given the gloomy assessments often made of the state of print media in the UK but, it turns out, we’re just not measuring success properly. Continue reading