Met­rics at Work

Arab News - - News Internatio­nal - ANGELE CHRISTIN

When the news moved on­line, jour­nal­ists sud­denly learned what their au­di­ences ac­tu­ally liked, through al­go­rith­mic tech­nolo­gies that scru­ti­nize web traf­fic and ac­tiv­ity. Has this ad­vent of au­di­ence met­rics changed jour­nal­ists’ work prac­tices and pro­fes­sional iden­ti­ties?

In Met­rics at Work, Angèle Christin doc­u­ments the ways that jour­nal­ists grap­ple with au­di­ence data in the form of clicks, and an­a­lyzes how new forms of click­bait jour­nal­ism travel across na­tional bor­ders. Draw­ing on four years of field­work in web news­rooms in the US and France, in­clud­ing more than one hun­dred in­ter­views with jour­nal­ists, Christin re­veals many sim­i­lar­i­ties among the me­dia groups ex­am­ined—their edi­to­rial goals, tech­no­log­i­cal tools, and even of­fice fur­ni­ture. Yet she un­cov­ers cru­cial and para­dox­i­cal dif­fer­ences in how Amer­i­can and French jour­nal­ists un­der­stand au­di­ence an­a­lyt­ics and how th­ese af­fect the news pro­duced in each coun­try. Amer­i­can jour­nal­ists rou­tinely dis­re­gard traf­fic numbers and pri­mar­ily rely on the opin­ion of their peers to de­fine jour­nal­is­tic qual­ity. Mean­while,

French jour­nal­ists fix­ate on in­ter­net traf­fic and view th­ese numbers as a sign of their res­o­nance in the pub­lic sphere.

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