Dispatches from the living amongst journalism's walking dead

Do page views make us biased?

Aside from my little rant abut page views yesterday, there are far more reasons to seek another way to engage online audiences for the good of the overall product.

Eat Sleep Publish really lays out a great case against page view-driven news value. The author, Jason Preston,  suggests page view goals create a conflict of interest for news managers. As a daily online news manager for a metro news site, I can see where he’s coming from.

He notes that the overall value of a story to many news organization lies in how many page views it receives online. When everyone’s competing to not be the next laid off, it’s only natural for a reporter to write in such a way to get page views or for an editor to arrange placement for a story based on how many page views they think it might get (as opposed to its actual news value). The latter, I’ll admit, happens all of the time.

Does this make us, the newsroom types, in the employ of advertisers? Sure, we may not know who they are exactly – but does it represent a bias to push for them to make more off of ad impressions? Very intriguing food for thought. I’d be interested in hearing more opinions on this, people.


Can we forget about page views?


More takes on web analytics for news


  1. As evil as they are, I’d rather base my news judgment on page views than on “comment magnets.”

    • Mandy

      From where I sit, they are one and the same. Despite every newspaper’s spiel about “allowing the public to have a voice”, most really added commenting functionality to add page views, plain and simple. Most newsroom managers don’t want to spend time making the comments worthwhile, we’d rather just take the easy page view and be done with it.

      It makes a huge effect when they aren’t there. The Ryan Widmer stories used to do mondo page views, but when we started turning off comments on all of them, they barely register on the scale. Same thing goes for that stabbing story Wednesday.

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