Research Brief: Roles of web analytics companies in news production
Today, web analytics are increasingly used to gauge the success, present and future, of news content and related news products. Valerie Belair-Gagnon, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Avery E. Holton, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah, conducted in-depth interviews with the suppliers of those analytics—web analytics companies—to examine how managers for analytics companies understand and position their work in relation to news production.
The study, published in Digital Journalism, finds that while web analytics companies seek to understand and address news production values and norms without assuming responsibility as journalists, they foster profit-oriented norms and values in newsrooms by introducing web analytics as disruptive, connective and routinized in news production. The study also shows that web analytics companies—offering products they need to continuously modify because of changes in web and audiences behavior—are creating a setting of constant experimentation with old and new products.
“This and other findings within the study provide a portrait of the development of norms and values in journalism as these companies gain a greater acceptance in newsrooms and increasingly influence news production,” said Belair-Gagnon.