In-house analytic tools turning journalists into digital thinkers

Washington, July 29 (IANS) An in-house data analytics tool recently employed at The New York Times office is not only pulling in data from multiple sources and presenting it at one place in a simplified manner, it is also helping editors and reporters develop better story ideas.

Called “Stela” (story and events analytics), the analytics dashboard was introduced to the NYT newsroom in September last year.

The tool is now expanding to include better video analytics and deliver useful data points to reporters.

“Think a daily, desk-specific email, reporting analytics information in the body of the email, distributed in the newsroom,” said a report in www.niemanlab.org.

“We were looking for ways to help reporters and editors get feedback on the things they were being asked to do online, such as tweaking headlines, promoting to social,” Steve Mayne, lead Growth Editor at the Times, was quoted as saying.

Stela has now 1,300 monthly users — almost the entire Times news operation staff. “We’re excited to be hearing that this tool can be used to help develop story ideas,” Mayne added.

This is how it works.

The tool pulls in data from the Times’ desktop and mobile websites as well as all of the Times’ mobile apps.

“In addition to elementary metrics like pageviews and referrals, Stela breaks down other data points such as the percentage of readers coming to each story from different countries and how many readers are subscribers, registered users or anonymous traffic,” the report said.

It also pulls top comments and shows the social posts that are doing best so that editors can see which Facebook or Twitter posts have been shared or retweeted most widely.

“Social media editors monitor Stela and can reuse language from the posts that have performed best, rather than trying to eyeball various Twitter or Facebook accounts for what appear to be popular posts,” the niemanlab.org report pointed out.

The Guardian also has an Ophan in-house analytics engine. The Financial Times is reportedly launching a new analytics tool to make metrics more understandable for its newsroom.

The app is also helping make tangible the importance of mobile-friendly writing and design.

“On so many stories, you’ll see 60, 70, 80 per cent of readers coming from mobile, particularly for some of the breaking news stuff,” Mayne was quoted as saying.

–IANS

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