The Traffic Factories: Metrics at Chartbeat, Gawker Media, and The New York Times
A report by Caitlin Petre
Tow Center for Digital Journalism
Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University
Audience metrics have become ubiquitous in news organizations, but there has been little empirical research on how the data is produced or how it affects newsroom culture and journalists daily work. The Tow Center sought to understand how the use of metrics changes reporters behavior and what this means for journalism. Thus, researcher Caitlin Petre conducted ethnographic analysis of the role of metrics in journalism, focusing on three case studies: Chartbeat, a dominant metrics vendor; Gawker Media, a newsroom intently focused on metrics; and The New York Times, a legacy news outlet where currently metrics were more peripheral. Petre offers the following key points based on her findings. The full report is online here, and available as a pdf and ebook downloads here.
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