Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The page-view problem.

David Carr:

Here at The Times, the Most E-Mailed list on our Web site has gone from being an in-house curiosity to a measure of salience, as much as getting an article on the front page. The list can be wonderfully idiosyncratic — last Friday, a six-month-old goof on using animal training on husbands (“What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage”) reappeared alongside Thomas Friedman’s meditation on the president’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.

But at some point, ratings (which print journalists, unlike their television counterparts, have never had to contend with) will start to impinge on news judgment. “You can bemoan the crass decision-making driving by ratings, but you can’t really avoid the fact that page views are increasingly the coin of the realm,” said Jim Warren, co-managing editor of The Chicago Tribune. (NYT)

Print journalists have had to deal with their own "ratings" system in the past: distribution. The more newspapers or magazines sold, the better. However, online newspapers allow editors to keep statistics on which articles get the most views, instead of an issue (of a magazine, or printing of a newspaper) as a whole. It takes pandering to a whole new level, and just might lower the quality of writing at newspapers.

The page-view problem might also change the kind of issues that get the spotlight. Instead of editors having total control over what makes the front page, readers will have more input. The more page views an article gets online, the more likely that it will make the front page of the print issue -- if there's a new development by the next day. People are tired of hearing about the Iraq war? Put Britney on the front page! That'll sell some newspapers.

Uh oh.

1 comment:

~Virginia~ said...

This has always been a fear of mine! It's why I resist clicking on newslinks about Brad and Angelina or Tom and Kate...aside from the obvious "I Hate These People" viewpoint. :)