Reporting by Olga Kyle, Reuben Stern, Laura Davison, Teddy Nykiel.

This week the RJI Futures Lab explores how better use of analytics and user data could help newsrooms improve their coverage and connect with audiences.


Most news organizations track things like page views and unique visitors. But more sophisticated data, along with better use of the numbers, could help newsrooms improve their journalism. We recap four key ways newsrooms could be smarter with their metrics.

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For more information:

The two videos below offer a sort of hourlong quick course for anyone who wants to be smarter about using online audience data to strengthen their content. The recorded sessions took place as part of RJI’s Journalytics Summit earlier this fall.

Getting publishers to think like marketers
In this presentation, Matt Booher of Empower MediaMarketing shows several examples of how consumer companies have succeeded in the content game by using their expertise in product marketing to craft editorial strategies that built an audience. He says the goal isn’t necessarily to let readers or viewers set the editorial agenda or to insert brand messages at every turn, but instead to use detailed information about the audience to spot opportunities to engage them further, and also to build stronger revenue streams.

Data-informed publishing
Michael Halbrook of Adobe Consulting starts off with the image of a paperboy a hundred years ago selling single copies on the street. He then fast-forwards to today, saying news organizations still should use similar thinking to ensure the news coverage they produce gets to likely consumers at the right place and time. His vision is for a “data-informed” journalism that responds to user analytic data by providing even more sophisticated reporting and additional coverage that answers the questions people really have around a given news event.

To watch additional recorded sessions from RJI’s Journalytics Summit event, click here.

Also, this list from RJI highlights some of the most important metrics journalists can consider when analyzing the effectiveness of their website or mobile app.


Real-time analytics tools like Chartbeat and enable users to know what is happening with a website at any given moment. We explore how the tools work and how newsrooms can make use of them.

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A few other analytics tools:


Understanding the unique behavior patterns on the mobile platform can help newsrooms decide how to best serve that audience, too. We hear how some news organizations are capturing and interpreting the data about mobile users.

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Reuben Stern is the deputy director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and host and co-producer of the weekly Futures Lab video update.


The Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab video update features a roundup of fresh ideas, techniques and developments to help spark innovation and change in newsrooms across all media platforms. Visit the RJI website for the full archive of Futures Lab videos, or download the iPad app to watch the show wherever you go. You can also sign up to receive email notification of each new episode.