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Metrics and analytics in the newsroom: an ethnographic study exploring how audience data are changing journalistic practice.

Blanchett Neheli, N., 2019. Metrics and analytics in the newsroom: an ethnographic study exploring how audience data are changing journalistic practice. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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BLANCHETT NEHELI, Nicole_Ph.D._2018_revised.pdf



The use of metrics and analytics is now embedded in and directly impacting newsroom practice and routines. As audience data are used to shape and promote content that help form societal narratives, development of best practice is crucial, not only to enhance fulsome public discourse but as a means of reputation building for media outlets fighting to retain relevance and public trust, both of which are intrinsically tied to revenue and/or funding. This thesis explores the potential conflicts between journalism’s mandate to keep the public informed through quality, contextualised news coverage and the use of metrics and analytics to build scale and a sustainable business model. Empirical research is based on ethnographic observation in four news organisations on two continents in three different countries: Norway’s national broadcaster, NRK, which has developed its own analytics system that uses both qualitative and quantitative data; The Canadian Press, Canada’s national news agency, which is exploring ways to track how its content is being used with little direct access to audience data; The Hamilton Spectator, a local newspaper in Canada making the shift from print to digital; and a similarly sized and situated local paper in the United Kingdom, The Bournemouth Daily Echo. Participant observation and interviews were used to investigate how metrics and analytics impact newsroom routines; how journalists feel their work is impacted by the use of audience data; and how practices pertaining to the use of metrics and analytics are challenging the boundaries of journalism. The thesis employs a bricolage of theories within a sociological framework, through the lens of media logic, and draws on the author’s own perspective of working in a newsroom and, currently, in an academic media faculty. The research provides observed examples of the ways in which changing boundaries are impacting definitions of journalism and who is a journalist; it proposes best practice for the use of metrics and analytics in newsrooms that might better situate media outlets to serve their communities and survive in a rapidly changing media landscape; it offers suggestions for media scholars on best practice to perform research that better reflects newsroom routines particular to the use of metrics and analytics; the thesis contributes a new gatekeeping model that identifies two primary channels related specifically to the use of metrics and analytics: promotional and developmental; finally, the thesis demonstrates how a bricolage of complementary theories and the selection of multiple sites of study might best support the reflexive investigation of complex social structures within a rapidly changing field.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:metrics; analytics; journalism; gatekeeping; boundary work; media logic; field theory
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:31683
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:25 Jan 2019 14:04
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:14


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