“Sophisticated Web Stats Give Editors Better Idea of Reader Interests”

[Keyword: ]. This lengthy article in Editor & Publisher gives a good overview of how stats are being used in news organisations. Central to the article seems to be “what should [the] editor do with that knowledge?”. Here’s some key quotes:

“Prior to [a] stats upgrade, where Web site stats came into play was with identifiable waves of interest — which sometimes resulted in high play of a story over several days. Editors left to their own judgment might not have played the stories in the same way or kept them highlighted so long.”

From Guardian assistant editor Neil McIntosh: “Stats can inform decisions and help with the business of allocating resources during a crisis.”

“Another important data point: most e-mailed articles.”

From OrlandoSentinel.com editor Anthony Moor: “Stats are just another, new set of data that we can mine to understand better the relationship between our users and the news. … [My editors] know that they must apply standard journalistic values to what they learn before taking action.”

“Editors must consider not just how much traffic certain features receive, but where that traffic comes from,” warns Meredith Artley, editor of the International Herald Tribune’s Web site in Paris. “[T]he big traffic may not point to pure popularity, but rather to the existence of a bridge or link that leads readers from one site to another, she says.”

“A great way to handle a story that does drive a lot of traffic, says [Jim Brady, executive editor of Washingtonpost.com], is to extend the life of the story not just by promoting it longer, but by adding a Live Online follow-up discussion, creating a photo gallery or video piece to go with it, re-running the story in a feature slot on subsequent days, or buying search terms related to the story to make it more visible outside [the site].”

“the concept of dayparting — that is, changing the homepage content based on time of day and/or the week”

“Web site user-registration databases [can show] what groups are gravitating to what stories.”

Now I think I’ll headline my next article “Necrophilia among ducks ruffles research feathers.”

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