Analytics-Driven Journalism? Editorial Metrics and the Reconfiguration of Online News Production Practices in African Newsrooms"

Dumisani Moyo, Admire Mare, Trust Matsilele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although the notion of measuring the performance of news stories is not a new phenomenon, the advent of online analytic tools has redefined the whole terrain of the sociology of online news production and distribution. This paper, which draws from an on-going cross-national comparative study of Zimbabwean, Kenyan, and South African newsrooms, focuses on the use and role of analytics in news production and distribution. It investigates how analytics tools are used in editorial decision-making and advertising negotiations. Based on structured and unstructured interviews with editors and journalists working for selected newsrooms in East and Southern Africa, the paper examines how the use of analytics is reshaping the evaluation of the impact, reach, relevance of news stories and performance of individual journalists. Our study shows that the deployment of analytic tools has altered how news organizations in different parts of Africa monitor, track, engage in digital listening and interact with their audiences, thereby spawning a new phenomenon we call “analytics-driven journalism.” The paper argues that newsrooms in different parts of the continent are, to varied degrees, now more concerned about newsroom metrics and engagement rates at the expense of the broader public interest dimension of journalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-506
Number of pages17
JournalDigital Journalism
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Audiences
  • South Africa and Kenya
  • Zimbabwe
  • analytic tools
  • clickbaiting
  • digital media
  • editorial metrics
  • news production
  • public interest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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