WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Story Clicks & News Coverage

Sep 6, 2016

Poynter reports that one year after getting rid of its print edition, the student newspaper at a community college in California is making even more changes by splitting up what it offers. 

One of the paper’s sites will offer BuzzFeed-style content, and another will focus largely on news from the three communities near campus.  The decisions are based on analytics gained through the paper’s website.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton thinks it’s a mistake to offer stories only on-line. She pointed out some people don't have internet access. Crighton said she worked at a TV station that constantly pushed viewers to its website for more information on stories. But viewers without internet access would call the station for the extra information, tying up personnel who had to read the details over the phone.

Crighton said on-line stories sometimes get shared, which gives them a larger audience. And station websites are designed to show which stories get the most attention from viewers, which can be useful.

But Crighton and fellow panelists Will Buss and Rich Egger said news organizations should not base reporting decisions solely on "clicks."

Buss said the data should not dictate how a newsroom goes about its day-to-day coverage. Some stories -- such as those about local government meetings -- might seem boring on the surface but it's worth dedicating time and resources to ensure those stories are told.

Buss said when he worked in the industry (not all that long ago), he constantly heard that papers were about to go all-digital.  Yet newspapers continue to be printed every day. He said the Western Courier is available in print and on-line and he sees that continuing for now. He thinks students need the experience of writing for both.

Egger said print editions help students gain experience in hitting deadlines because stories must be ready by a certain time to make it into the print edition.  There are no deadlines for on-line editions -- stories can be published whenever they're ready.