It’s been my experience that every now and then, you have to be terrified to really feel like you’re challenging yourself professionally. I haven’t felt terrified in a long time – until today.
I’m leaving the Huffington Post – my home for the last 10 months – to take on a challenge that’s so different from anything I’ve ever done, I want to start breathing into a paper bag just thinking about it.
I’ll be rejoining my old bosses from TBD – Jim Brady and Steve Buttry – at Digital First Media as a player-to-be-titled later. I’m excited to be “getting the band back together” – I felt that TBD had an excellent group of journalists that just never got the time to finish what we started. Maybe this is my chance to do complete some of those goals.
If you aren’t familiar with Digital First, it’s an exciting new company joining together Journal Register and Media News properties. The company includes papers from the likes of the Denver Post and Los Angeles Daily News to the Trentonian (in New Jersey) the (Lorain, OH) Morning Journal and tons of small dailies and weeklies all over the place.
I’m getting out of the business of running social media accounts and getting back to my local journalism roots. I’ll be working with local journalists all over DFM’s many daily and weekly papers to help them learn new digital practices and social media skills. I’ll also get the chance to be a part of local news again by working on special projects, digital strategy and breaking news at local properties and company-wide. It’s a change that’s a long time coming – and one I hope can get me back into learning as much as I’m teaching.
I also plan to still be writing here (hopefully more often) about what I’m learning, what’s going on in social/digital media and the occasional rant about Things on the Internet.
It isn’t a glamour move – I’m sure all of my Facebook subscribers will no longer find me exciting when I leave HuffPost – but I know I can’t stand still. I’m scared to death but also kind of relieved to get out of the social media editor game (more on that later). I still need to grow as a journalist – and the only way to learn to swim is jump right in. I hope you guys will be there to learn with me.
If page views are the goal, keep those comments a-comin’
On March 31, 2010
In Industry News & Notes
While it is well-documented that online page views are a flawed metric, most news websites still use it to measure “success” of stories and the performance of employees (like me). In thinking about the possibility of eliminating online comments from news stories, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how that would affect page views.
Fact is, many website visitors, as much as they may complain about comments, love to read them. Cincinnati.Com gets a lot of traffic just to the comment sections associated with stories. In January alone, Cincinnati.Com got more than 700,000 page views to just the comments on stories (not counting blogs, forums, etc.). When we choose to take comments off of certain stories, I can see the effect it has on page views in our analytics analysis.
So what? Maybe we want to take the high road, page views be damned, right?
This comment backlash has revealed another “have your cake and eat it too” problem for the news industry. We want the page views, but don’t feel comfortable with the sort of content that tends to bring them in.
I speak from experience when I say that nothing is more likely to make a newsroom editors exude multiple personalities quite like the almighty page view. One minute they’re railing on about how we’re above using non-news linkbait online. The next, they’re in a froth over a party girl photo gallery with hundreds of thousands of page views, asking for more of the same. When your job depends on it, it can be rough to keep up.
Have I posted or promoted a story because I knew it would get comments (and thus, page views)? Absolutely. It happens on every size of news site and blog. We attempt to balance our tastes and news judgment with the harsh and unpleasant realities of online revenue every single day.
I really doubt news execs are really willing to give up the multiple millions of page views associated with comments on stories every year. Maybe, just maybe, they’d instead be willing to invest a bit of money and personnel in making those comments a bit better via good moderation.
Maybe I’m the one who’s dreaming?