Follow the stats, or follow the ideals

Ever since the first online editor e-mailed to the newsroom a Top 10 list of the most read stories on the web site, the debate has raged:

  • Why do readers want the sensational stuff?
  • Are we in danger of letting reader stats dictate coverage?

There has always been an underlying conflict in journalism — readers complain about sensationalism, but accidents, crimes, natural disasters and gossip help sell papers and spike TV ratings. On the web, we just get to witness the conflict in real time. Journalists want to be high minded, but they also want an audience.

Adam Reilly notes that the dueling values of readers and journalists are epitomized on one story on Boston.com: Tom Brady’s love child. Readers complain, but it’s also the most e-mailed story on the site. Umm …

(Via Dan Kennedy)

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3 thoughts on “Follow the stats, or follow the ideals

  1. AP video stats on our site showed Anna Nicole, Britney, and some other junk I don’t remember as being most viewed.

    We need to send reporters with camcorders to stand outside bars and interview drunk chicks.

  2. […] Howard Owens: Follow the stats, or follow the ideals “There has always been an underlying conflict in journalism — readers complain about sensationalism, but accidents, crimes, natural disasters and gossip help sell papers and spike TV ratings. On the web, we just get to witness the conflict in real time. (tags: journalism personalisation metrics sensationalism) […]

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