Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
May 21, 2014, 10:39 a.m.
Aggregation & Discovery
LINK: medium.com  ➚   |   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.
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
Can publishers find a sustainable business model this new age of Facebook/Apple/Snapchat/Twitter/Google distributed content? And is local news destined to be left behind?
What Scribd’s growing pains mean for the future of digital content subscription models
It turns out that ebook subscription models don’t work very well when people read too much. So what happens next?
How research (and PowerPoints) became the backbone of National Journal’s membership program
“We no longer look at National Journal simply as a news source, but as a collection of resources, as well as a collection of experts we can turn to on occasion.”
What to read next
2843
tweets
A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads
Think making money on mobile advertising is hard now? Think how much more difficult it will be with a significant share of your audience is blocking all your ads — all with a simple download from the App Store.
1763For news organizations, this was the most important set of Apple announcements in years
A new Flipboard-clone with massive potential reach, R.I.P. Newsstand, and news stories embedded deeper inside iOS — it was a big day for news on iPhones and iPads.
762Newsonomics: 10 numbers that define the news business today
From video to social, from mobile to paywalls — these data points help define where we are in the “future of news” today, like it or not.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
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 ➚
Lens
St. Louis Globe-Democrat
Tumblr
New England Center for Investigative Reporting
The Bay Citizen
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Facebook
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Voice of San Diego
Plaza Pública
Investigative News Network
Daily Mail