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How journalists can avoid amplifying misinformation in their stories
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Aug. 4, 2014, 12:08 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: www.theguardian.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   August 4, 2014

The Telegraph experienced a traffic boom in June, according to The Guardian’s Mark Sweney. Telegraph Media Group editor-in-chief Jason Seiken points to strategies like headline testing and rapid turn around on new products to explain this success. For example, Project Babb, a standalone soccer site that relies on a “formula of irreverence and quirkiness” drew 1 million views in its first seven weeks.

But the real bulk of the Telegraph’s growth has come from Facebook, says Seiken:

The Telegraph Media Group editor-in-chief said an emphasis on carefully promoting stories with Facebook’s more youth-oriented audience in mind has started to pay off, with the social network easily outstripping Twitter as a traffic driver. The surge in Facebook traffic referral in turn fuelled a bumper month of growth in June.

Seiken said traffic from Facebook to Telegraph.co.uk grew 61% month on month in June.

To achieve this growth, the Telegraph shifted its energy away from sharing on Twitter, incorporated more data analysis into the newsroom workflow, and decided to focus on writing social headlines. But Seiken pushes back against suggestions that the Telegraph is relying on clickbait to bring in new audience:

“We are never going to win being BuzzFeed,” he said. “If I were going the route of BuzzFeed – aiming purely for traffic growth – it would be fairly easy to double Telegraph traffic overnight by going down the click bait and sensationalism path. I’m not saying that in a derogatory way. But that’s not the Telegraph. If you value your journalism, feel like you are creating journalism that has a value, that is worth paying for and that audiences will pay for because it is differentiated from the rest, then the meter is the way to go.”

Update: For more information on the traffic that Facebook drives to news sites, check out Chartbeat’s post on what happened during the Facebook outage last week, during which news sites saw three percent less traffic overall. A summary:

In short, then: our brief world without Facebook looked a bit different, albeit in predictable ways. Significantly less news was consumed on phones, slightly more homepages were visited on desktops, and 30 minutes later, when Facebook came back online, traffic returned to normal.

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