As more online news is moved behind paywalls news staff are tasked with moving audiences down the “funnel.” At the wide end of the funnel audience members may click on a news article or interact with news content in their social media feeds. As they move down the funnel, they spend more time on a news organization’s webpage or become return visitors. News organizations increasingly need audience members to reach the thin end of the funnel by becoming, and continuing to be, paid subscribers. Social media editors are at the heart of these efforts in their role as intermediaries between audiences and newsrooms. They are integrating data from social networking platforms and data services into editorial practices. Digital platforms and online news have made the process of constructing an audience more quantitative and granular. As such, demographic data are used to profile and target audience segments. Furthermore, behavioural data such as “engaged time” and “return visits” are used to measure and audience attentiveness and loyalty. These analytics are then communicated to reporters and used to shape news production. In this paper, I report on eleven interviews that were conducted with social media editors at news organizations across the US in 2019. I argue that social media editors are refining and implementing a new metrics regime that is closely aligned with the changing economics of online news.
2 Dec 2020
Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia