Monday, February 21, 2011

VS ONLINE METRICS: Should reporters care about what their readers are reading - and not reading?

You know what's better than producing solid, electrifyingly good content for your newsroom? Validation. Proof that readers are interested in your supposedly electrifying content.

For the past year or so, the New Haven Register newsroom has incorporated video into their storytelling and reporting. Many of them now shoot, edit and publish their own video content without any 'computer guys' (which apparently I am?) in the room. They have all honed their skills, and found varying degrees of comfort with it. Which is a fairly compelling story, since many across Journal Register Company had never even held a video camera before being handed their own FLIP cam last year to use as a reporting tool.

BEFORE THIS GETS LONG AND WINDED: This link is what this blog post is about

So once your newsroom gets the hang of using video to help report their beat - how do you get them to up their work to the next level? (Remember, we're talking about transforming some of those old school journalists who started out with type writers, not Droids and iPhones.) Show them which of their work, um, works. Show them what readers are clicking on. Give them some of that old fashioned healthy competition amongst one another.

I established a practice this week that I plan to continue sharing with the Register staff going forward - to give them a light overview of which of their videos are leaving a mark - on readers, and on me (I review all the videos we publish throughout the week). And I'm doing it in the public light.

I posted this on The Register's website today (it's the link from above), showing the Register's top 5 most viewed videos last week, 5 videos of my choosing that serve as great examples to follow (in terms of execution and composition), and the top 5 most viewed stories.

All content and measurements are from Feb 14 - 20 via Clip Syndicate (for video) and Omniture (for story page views). Of course, you need a log in to access the measurements of both.

It's not hard to do this for your newsroom - get the stats, get the embed codes and/or links, post it on the Web (note: I wanted to originally post it here on my blog, but for some reason Blogger didn't agree with multiple embed codes from our video provider, Syndicastor). After you got it compiled - email it to the staff, Tweet it, etc.

And this is only a sprinkle. It could end up becoming a weekly place of discourse between the readers and the reporters about what works, and what interests. Not just in terms of content, but composition. It also serves as a review, or rewind as I called it, of the previous week's stories. And that's interesting to readers too. Presumably, of course. We'll turn to the Omniture page stats to see if that is true or not. Although, in this case -- positive feedback and improved discourse about online metrics with the news staff has much more worth than a number of clicks.

But most importantly - the best way to learn and pick up best practices for any skill is by watching what your peers and competitors are doing. Why not start by looking at what's working -- and not working -- with the folks in your own newsroom? Follow the leaders (but like pop always said - don't jump off the Brooklyn Bridge just because your friend did).

So now, I'm curious: What do you think about online metrics? Should journalists give a hoot about how many page views their story got? Does a story or video matter if it only gets five views? How much of it is on promotion and placement on a web site -- and how much of it is in the content it self?

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Blogger Ivan said...

Sounds like a perfect topic for a JRC chat!

February 21, 2011 at 7:57 PM 
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