Metrics At Square One: The 19th Creates A Measure Called Total Journalism Reach

The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom, claims it has devised a new readership metric: total journalism reach. This goes beyond traditional measurements that tend to focus on individual channels, not the big picture.  

“We used to measure our journalism’s reach and impact with website views, visitors, and engaged time—the methods many of our funders insisted on,” writes Alexandra Smith, audience director of The 19th, in Columbia Journalism Review 

But Smith adds that “even when we included stats about our social media engagement, newsletter subscribers, and member community, our audience data reports still didn’t accurately reflect the ways we were serving people with our journalism.”

So what is this new metric (or metrics)?



“The new baseline we’re calling total journalism reach, or the number of times our journalism, in its many forms, is consumed by our audiences,” Smith continues. “Right now, it includes website views; views of our stories that are republished on other news sites and aggregation apps, like Apple News; views of our newsletter based on how many emails we send and their average open rates, reduced for inflation since Apple implemented a new privacy feature; event attendees; video views; podcast listens; and Instagram post views.”

We suspect that many other publishers also measure some or all of these statistics. But it depends on who is viewing them. Are they strictly for internal consumption to help determine product alignment and where to allocate resources, or are they also going to be shown to advertisers?

And what’s the purpose in the end? Smith notes that journalism now exists “in various formats splintered across platforms and products. People are just likely to get their news on Instagram as from a news website. It no longer makes sense to rely primarily on measuring readership by traditional website metrics.”

It may be time to follow The 19th’s lead.



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