Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
How the Swiss newspaper NZZ is building products to try and cultivate new paying audiences
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
May 20, 2013, noon

What kind of response do we want readers to have? When you build an informative and elegant visualization, how are you hoping they’ll react?

These are questions that Amanda Cox of The New York Times’ graphics desk asks herself on a regular basis. In a recent analysis of their popularity on social media, Cox tried to locate what makes a graphic popular.

1. “development.really.hard”
2. “big.breaking.news.big.breaking.news.adjacent”
3. “useful”
4. “explicitly.emotional…atmospheric”
5. “surprise.reveal”
6. “comprehensive”

Unsurprisingly “difficult” topics — mostly related to war, violence, climate change, and other highly complex issues — performed least well, but “takeaway” pieces with an obvious message also performed poorly as a class. In contrast, visualizations that requires extensive technical resources tended to perform particularly well, as did features Cox classed as emotional and useful — and, of course, those closely tied to breaking news.

In the wrap-up of her analysis, Cox considered the problem of indicating importance to the paper’s readership across platforms: “How do you signal that something is important? You do that by using the resource that is scarce.” In print, the Times can use scarcity to indicate importance by giving an important graphic a desirable spot on a “good page.” On the web, the equivalent scarce resource isn’t placement, but the allocation of valuable internal tech/development hours.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
How the Swiss newspaper NZZ is building products to try and cultivate new paying audiences
“Now we are in the process, with our new data platforms, of analyzing clusters of users and identifying which cluster has a higher likelihood to convert to a paying subscriber.”
Paywalls and politics: Independent Russian television station TV Rain turns to subscriptions as its future
Shifting the focus to digital was hardly just a business decision, though: “Really, this was pretty much the only source that could help us go through.”
For Western news companies looking to India, partnering with local publishers is a path in
Vice is only the latest American or British publisher to seek out an Indian partner — in its case the Times Group — for reasons that combine local knowledge and legal restrictions.