Digital Europe Economic seminars

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Ken­za Lamot (Uni­ver­si­ty of Antwerp)

Metrics For News. The Uses and Effects of Ana­ly­tics in Journalism

Quali­ty jour­na­lism in the pre­vio­us cen­tu­ry was still con­si­de­red as jour­na­lism that har­dly needed to take into acco­unt its audien­ce. Seve­ral deve­lop­ments, such as incre­asing com­mer­cial pres­su­res and advan­cing tech­no­lo­gi­cal and digi­tal capa­bi­li­ties, have bro­ught abo­ut a gre­ater focus on audien­ces. Mean­whi­le, news media have embra­ced the­ir reader­ship and it is wide­ly accep­ted that edi­tors take into acco­unt the inte­re­sts and pre­fe­ren­ces of the­ir audien­ce. Ana­ly­ti­cal tools such as Chart­be­at, Google Ana­ly­tics and Smar­tOc­to are the­re­fo­re being sold to new­sro­oms to help them bet­ter under­stand the­ir audien­ce and incre­ase „audien­ce enga­ge­ment” with news.

The dis­ser­ta­tion seeks to inve­sti­ga­te how Fle­mish new­sro­oms use audien­ce ana­ly­tics and what effects this use has on the deci­sion-making jour­na­li­sts make during the news selec­tion pro­cess and on the news sup­ply itself. It wants to exa­mi­ne, among other things, whe­ther the gro­wing atten­tion for click- and reading figu­res could have the down­si­de that the news sup­ply shi­fts towards softer, tri­vial sub­jects that are cate­ring to audien­ce demand. Using vario­us empi­ri­cal methods (in-depth inte­rviews, a survey, an expe­ri­ment and a con­tent ana­ly­sis), the rese­arch attempts to get a grip on the­se questions.
The results of the dis­ser­ta­tion show that the use of ana­ly­tics is com­mon and wide­spre­ad among Fle­mish new­sro­oms. Ana­ly­tics are used for abo­ut six prac­ti­ces, inc­lu­ding con­tent opti­mi­za­tion such as the pla­ce­ment or pre­sen­ta­tion of an artic­le. Howe­ver, digi­tal edi­tors indi­ca­te that jour­na­li­sts» gut feeling and know­led­ge would always pre­va­il when edi­to­rial cho­ices are made. Indi­vi­du­al jour­na­li­sts are also fami­liar with the use of tho­se ana­ly­tics, altho­ugh often indi­rec­tly thro­ugh com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the­ir edi­tors. It is rather the youn­ger jour­na­li­sts who use tho­se ana­ly­tics on the­ir own and who adopt the same posi­ti­ve mind­set of the­ir edi­tors. Even tho­ugh the use of ana­ly­tics is nuan­ced in both stu­dies, more in-depth ana­ly­ses of the effects of ana­ly­tics reve­al that ana­ly­tics pri­ma­ri­ly dri­ve the selec­tion of „softer” news. Ana­ly­tics had an effect on the pla­ce­ment of soft new headli­nes and Face­bo­ok selec­tion is also more like­ly to dri­ve softer con­tent based on ana­ly­tics.

In short, the pre­sen­ta­tion pro­vi­des a nuan­ced pic­tu­re of the dif­fe­rent effects and uses of ana­ly­tics. Jour­na­li­sts seem to be sear­ching for a mid­dle gro­und that tries to recon­ci­le com­mer­cial and jour­na­li­stic moti­ves witho­ut com­pro­mi­sing on quali­ty, the thin line they have been balan­cing on for decades.

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If you have any questions, please contact dr. Wojciech Hardy

The orga­ni­zed series of semi­nars is one of the acti­vi­ties under the pro­gram „Ini­tia­ti­ve of Excel­len­ce – Rese­arch Uni­ver­si­ty” (IDUB). The Digi­tal Euro­pe Eco­no­mic Semi­nars will pro­vi­de a flo­or for rese­arch focu­sed on digi­ti­sa­tion, with pre­sen­ta­tions given by the leading aca­de­mi­cians from the Euro­pe­an Union.

The semi­nars will focus on foste­ring dis­se­mi­na­tion of ide­as and buil­ding con­nec­tions betwe­en scho­lars from dif­fe­rent EU mem­ber sta­tes. The meetings are open to both aca­de­mic wor­kers and stu­dents, from both Poland and abro­ad. They will help bro­aden rese­arch per­spec­ti­ves and to cre­ate a network of con­tacts for poten­tial futu­re col­la­bo­ra­tion and know­led­ge exchange.

The “Digi­tal Euro­pe Eco­no­mic Semi­nars” take pla­ce twi­ce a month, with the meetings anno­un­ced in advan­ce on the semi­nar websi­te. All of the semi­nars will be in English. Past semi­nars can be vie­wed at the DELa­bUW YouTu­be chan­nel. You are welco­me to join!

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