Federica Cherubini and I have written a report for the Reuters Institute on how newsrooms across Europe and North America use analytics to better understand their audience and to support editorial decision making.
Based on more than 30 interviews, we show how, while most news organizations have embraced analytics, the majority still use analytics in very rudimentary and genric ways.
Only a few are developing what we call “editorial analytics“, approaches that are tailored to the specific needs of a particular organization, underpin both short-term and longer-term decision making, and constantly evolve to keep up with a changing media environment.
In the report, we suggest that news organisations can assess their “analytics capability” along three dimensions: tools, organization, and culture. (More on that here.) Do they have the tools they need, does their organization possess the expertise to make use of them, and does the newsroom culture embrace data-informed decision making?
With the development of more powerful and easier to use tools like Chartbeat, parse.ly and others, we find that what sets best practice examples of editorial analytics apart from other, more rudimentary and generic approaches, is at least as much about organization and culture as it is about tools. People can be the hardest part of analytics.
We hope the report will help newsrooms think about how they use analytics and move beyond rudimentary and generic approaches.
We also hope journalists will agree that it is important that they engage in the development of analytics, so that the tools and techniques that news organizations use reflect editorial values as well as commercial and technological considerations.