A new report on newsroom metrics entitled ‘The Traffic Factories’, has been published by the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism. The full report is available to download for free, and a key points summary is also available.
Author Caitlin Petre has found that whilst metrics exercise a powerful influence on journalists and their newsrooms, little research has been carried out on the effect or effectiveness of metrics. Her key findings suggest that numbers inspire powerful emotions in journalists; from elation to despair, and that managers need to consider the effect on staff as well as output. She also finds that metrics can ‘drown out’ other evaluation criteria and that not all successes can be easily measured. However the report acknowledges that data analytics can be a powerful force for targeting and suggests that busy newsrooms dedicate staff or partner with outside help to analyze and implement findings rather than leaving it to already overstretched journalists.