Kathy Zhang, a newsroom and product analytics manager for the New York Times, talks about how the Times is using metrics technologies like Google Analytics to Chartbeat. She argues that it makes the outlet and its reporters more effective at telling stories.
Several of the masthead editors like to say that The Times strives to be data informed rather than data driven, which I think is an important distinction. We don’t let pageviews dictate our coverage or approach, but we do use data to understand reader engagement and the reach of our stories. Our reporters’ and editors’ news judgment remains the driving force behind the decisions we make for story promotion and distribution. If the story is important, we get it out in front of our readers through prominent home screen placement, push alerts, social media posts and more.
But analytics allow us to serve our audience better. Seeing our online readership shift from a predominantly desktop audience to a much larger smartphone audience underscored the need for our product and technology teams to prioritize mobile-first story forms. Looking at page speed allows us to prioritize making our pages load faster so people don’t need to wait to read our stories.