Jul 1, 2009

Journalists caught in the metric

Given the ability of editors to measure traffic individual stories generate on a newspaper's website, could reporters find their beats - or even their jobs - eliminatd if their Web states don't measure up? That question was put to Dan Froomkin, only recently made a former columnist for the Washington Post, during a panel discussion.

From the New York Observer:

Mr. Froomkin's answer was that newspaper editors are typically "not senstive enough to Web sites," and cited Drudge and the Huffington Post as sites that have taken important cues from readers.

Mr. Froomkin said his editors told him that they "didn't think the column was working anymore" and "traffic was down." "Compared to what?" Mr. Froomkin said. "There were some very banal reasons for traffic going down." He explained that the Washington Post site lost readers after the site changed formats, and that he was still getting his "sea legs" after the Obama administration took over from the Bush regime in the White House.

"There was of course the money issue," Mr. Froomkin said. "I was an easy line item to scratch out."

Froomkin's answer isn't all that illuminating; perhaps his own firing is still too fresh. The larger issue of hit counts deserves more debate, however.


Edward Barrera said...
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Edward Barrera said...

I was there for the discussion, which was an obvious Froomkin crowd.

I think this article http://is.gd/1kEAw
is slightly more nuanced when it comes to why he might have been let go.

As for editors not being hit whores, since when? Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg even "said traditional journalists distinguish themselves from bloggers because they don't chase after traffic numbers."

Once again, since when? Who do you think sends the Huffpost and Drudge links?