Business Imperatives for the Digital Editor

I sometimes feel like an unpopular proselyte in arguing that today's digital journalists – at least at a senior editorial level – need to understand the business imperatives while also understanding the usual journalistic ones (double sourcing, verifiable accuracy, fairness, disclosure, etc).

WSJ.com managing editor Bill Grueskin seems to feel the same way, and has kindly sent me a list of things that today's editors in digital media must keep in their head, along with all the usual editorial duties.

In no particular order here they are. My additions in parens:

- Differentials in online/print ad rates

- Paid vs. free models (ie, subscription or micropayment vs. ad-supported)

- Role of search engines in driving traffic and revenue (SEO /SEM)

- (Corollary of above:) Tailoring content to appeal to search and other third party sites

- Tailoring content to maximize page views and thus ad impressions

Sree Sreenivasan of Columbia U frequently points out that journalists at The New York Times compete to get on the Most Read/Most Emailed/Most Blogged page, which also shows the most common search terms on the NYTimes.com site.

I say the NYTimes.com (and any) editors should also be aware of what the most-searched terms are on Google and Yahoo, and what those searches show on those sites, and what pages people land on after doing those searches and clicking through on the results.

From there they can get into funnel- and path-analysis, and more deep metrics. It becomes an organizational issue of who delves how much, into what; the bigger shops, like the journal, have the luxury of having someone(s) who does nothing but Web analytics – often a marketing team function, sometimes part of the technology department.

But today's top editor needs to know at least the basic, global issues Bill, Sree and I have stated just as much as a newspaper managing editor had better know the details of the print run.

2 comments:

Richard Jennings said...

You can get free access to those WSJ.com articles through http://www.congoo.com

I just saw that in PC World Magazine and thought it was a good tip

Tish Grier said...

Hi Dorian,

it would seem like a no-brainer to have someone who understand analytics on staff--but, then again, some of the things that some of us "digital natives" have figured out never seem to get thru to the top. The way I see it: there's still a prejudice within journalism circles against those of us who really know the online milieu (that is, unless we're code monkeys). Couple that prejudice with the need to cut bottom-line costs and, well, there you have it...