MASSIVE DISCLAIMER: I just want everybody to know that what I mean with this title is not to say that journalism as a whole is trash. In fact, I believe that there are numerous journalists that dedicate themselves immensely to their work and are able to publish magnificent articles that are consider to be extremely helpful and informative. However, has you know, there is sensationalism everywhere, fake news, lies, exaggerated perspectives that are running this industry. Also, I would like to refer that the topics that I am about to mention are, most likely, just a part of “problem”, and, with certainty, I can say that there are many other non-mentioned points that can be responsible for the current state of this type of media.
Recently, while studying for a test, I came across with a topic named “Journalism & Web Analytics“. For those who don’t know, Web Analytics, as the name implies, it is about measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. More simply, in this context, Web Analytics is the process of analyzing the behavior of visitors to a website.
Now, this is slightly controversial, if this “tool” allows you to know better your audience, why is it bad for journalism? The fact is that Web Analytics is an amazing “tool”, there is no doubt about it, also, if you dedicate some time to do some research you will find about its never-ending potentialities. However, I believe that this it is being used too extensively, and carelessly. Media publishers are only focused on metrics and numbers, and not on the actual value of the published article.
#1. News Stories Are Selected By Metrics And Algorithms.
To simplify, these algorithms allow the editors and actual producers to determine which stories can impact their profitability. That’s great! However, profit isn’t everything, the impact that a story can provide to certain individuals, the reader, is, in my perspective, the most important point to have into consideration. Also, I understand that the enterprise competition is an absolute insanity, and most of the times, the journalist is basically obligated to release a story that will generate more clicks (it’s complicated, maybe a topic for a future post).
#2. Algorithms Suggest The Best Titles Of A Story.
Now, that’s an amazing functionality, for sure! I agree, however, one more time, what generates more clicks and profits is not what is going to be valued in the long term. That is where the commonly know term “click bait” probably came from; articles with a title that attracts a potential reader, in which, most times, it doesn’t even correspond to the full veracity of the information given in the article. These type of articles produce fantastic short-term results but completely destroy the credibility of a media outlet.
#3. What The Audience Wants Is What Generates Traffic.
To sum up, corporate-thinking, generating significant web traffic is considered to be a to a well done job. One more time, I ask, in which extent might a company be focusing to much on their short term results, while neglecting the potential negative impacts of its action? Shouldn’t a company sacrifice a little bit of profit to promote good, correct, helpful, and honest journalism?
Thank you so much for reading this post. I would love to hear about your thoughts on this subject! Also, I understand that this might be a sightly sensitive topic, so I would ask you not to use my written text out of context.