The Ethics of Web Analytics: Implications of using audience metrics in news construction

Edson C. Tandoc, Ryan J. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations

Abstract

The collection and reporting of audience data through Web analytics is reshaping the news construction process, with journalists now aware of what their online audiences want. A more important question than understanding this process of adoption of Web analytics in the newsroom is how access to audience metrics impacts on the journalism that journalists produce. In this essay, we pose three interconnected concerns about the use of Web analytics in journalism, guided by journalism’s communitarian role. First, we warn of the danger of viewing the audience as disaggregated segments based on consumer preference. Second, we argue against choice as a moral end and call for distinction between the public interest and what the public is interested in. Finally, we warn against the dangers of journalism studies romanticizing the audience and arguing too strongly against journalistic autonomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-258
Number of pages16
JournalDigital Journalism
Volume3
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2015

Keywords

  • audience
  • communitarianism
  • editorial autonomy
  • gatekeeping
  • journalism ethics
  • role conceptions
  • Web analytics

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