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Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - November 2021

A guide to using editorial analytics to define your newsroom

Back in 2017, I wrote a Plus report about editorial analytics, and since then, many people have asked me questions about this. So, in this updated guide, let's refine and clarify this focus with a simple model, and use that to illustrate the importance and usefulness of editorial analytics.

We will talk about what editorial analytics is, what it can be used for, how it's measured, how it helps prove the value you create for your readers, and why it's an essential element for any journalistic institution.

What is editorial analytics?

There are obviously many different types of analytics. Most publishers are well aware of normal website analytics, the kind that give you pageviews, bounce rates, etc. Some publishers have extended and are now doing much deeper content analytics, even to the point of scoring individual articles across multiple parameters.

We also have audience analytics, which is all about understanding your readers better. This gives you subscription rates, churn, and metrics about how people consume your articles.

And then we also have internal analytics, like the kind of analytics you use to track and evaluate the performance of your journalists.

Here is the thing though, all of the above are based on relatively simple metrics of what people are doing on your site. But this is not what editorial analytics is about. In fact, editorial analytics is something completely different.

Editorial analytics is a tool that you use specifically within the newsroom to better focus your journalism. It's used to help guide you to cover stories better, to better align your focus with reality and the public, and it's used to evaluate what impact you have as a publisher.

You specifically use editorial analytics for two separate reasons:

  1. You use it to prove to your audience and the public that your journalism is of value to them, and is worth subscribing to.
  2. You also use it to live up to the journalistic ideal of being a public good, by comparing the focus you have as a publisher to the effect that has on those around you.

In other words, editorial analytics is what you use to keep you on track.

So let's talk about how this actually works, how you measure it, and how to use it.

There are many ways you can use editorial analytics, but let's start with the simplest example of all.

Be in touch with your audience

One of the worst things you can do as a publisher is to be out of touch with your audience. When you do this, you might still get a lot of traffic, but your audience no longer reads your articles because they don't find them to be personally useful.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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