Nieman Foundation at Harvard
What publishers around the world learned by sharing their climate change coverage with each other
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
May 21, 2014, 10:39 a.m.
Aggregation & Discovery
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   May 21, 2014

Of the 43,592 response pieces to The New York Times’ innovation report, this one by Joshua Lasky, who works in marketing at Atlantic Media’s branded content/strategy arm.

The Times report complains about the state of article tagging — the assignment of metadata that says, for instance, that a story is about the crisis in Ukraine, has a serious tone, is a profile, ran in the paper with a slideshow, and so on. Much of that metadata at the Times is still based on old standards. The report says this is holding back efforts to create new products for readers or come up with new ways to surface content to audiences. That’s true, but Lasky notes the other loss: Bad metadata makes it harder to know what’s working and what’s not working.

Adam Felder, Associate Director of Analytics at Atlantic Media, uses metadata to help contextualize how different subjects play to audiences. On the back end, using modified baseball statistics such as batting average and slugging percentage, he can compare any number of tags against each other. This could include any of the structured data tags that are mentioned in the NYT report: geographic location, story type, story tone, etc.

There’s a certain amount of content optimization that can be done here. Think if you were to tag articles based on whether they included a video; you could then analyze whether having this element improved article performance. This would help you to decide whether it made sense to embed more videos in the future. I wouldn’t trust an analysis of what sorts of content/elements work for a given audience without the use of metadata to back up the findings.

There’s a dire extrapolation of what Lasky is talking about — everyone, the Times is no longer printing sad stories, turns out they underperform summer cocktail recipes — and as the Times report notes (p. 78), journalists often like to view subjects like this through a worst-case-scenario lens. But it makes a ton of sense for news organizations to know where their investments are paying off — and what they can reasonably stop doing. To do that, you need structured data that describes your work — that’s metadata.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
What publishers around the world learned by sharing their climate change coverage with each other
For the better part of this year, news organizations in the Climate Publishers Network have been republishing each other’s climate change stories in order to expand their coverage of the issue.
Hot Pod: Is “Why doesn’t audio go viral?” the wrong question to ask?
“What Rolltape represents to me is an attempt to carve out a whole new digital space that requests a completely different kind of social interaction: sincerely, thoughtfully, slowly.”
“Why not be all the way in?” How publishers are using Facebook Instant Articles
“If we end up making more money as a publisher, that’s fantastic. I don’t think that’s going to be an afterthought or byproduct; I think there is a way to win from the business perspective.”
What to read next
How one blog helped spark The New York Times’ digital evolution
“I certainly had editors tell me that I shouldn’t be wasting my time on Bird Week. But that was the best part of City Room…We were like unsupervised children.”
572News outlets left and right (and up, down, and center) are embracing virtual reality technology
Among those experimenting is The Wall Street Journal, which plans to open source its 360-degree mobile video and VR technology and hopes to turn VR into more of a mainstay of its storytelling.
502Podcasting in 2015 feels a lot like blogging circa 2004: exciting, evolving, and trouble for incumbents
The same trends we saw a decade ago — professionalization on one hand, platformization on the other — sure seem to be playing out again.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Sports Illustrated
American Independent News Network
Global Voices
NBC News
The Dish
The New Yorker
Center for Investigative Reporting
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
San Francisco Chronicle