The New York Times (NYT) editors that spend their entire day deciding what goes on NYT.com don’t make any of their decisions based on Web stats, according to an Observer story on how the Times runs it front page on the Web.
“In terms of minute-to-minute news decisions, I think that would pretty much drive me crazy,” NYTimes.com’s digital news editor Jim Roberts told the Observer.
“I don’t want people to call up NYTimes.com and feel like that they’ve just landed in an environment that is alien to them,” he said. “It isn’t necessarily The New York Times in print, but it needs to reflect the same attitudes and standards.”
NYU professor Jay Rosen — who also works with the Huffington Post, a site whose editors are very much aware of what stories their readers are clicking on at any given second — perfectly expresses our view on the issue.
“What world are you living in if you don’t know where your users are flocking to? How can you edit your website?”
While we’re not always opposed to the idea, we’re not suggesting New York Times reporters should be aware of the traffic their stories are getting.
But Web editors simply must pay attention to readers’ clicks for two obvious reasons.
- It’s the main way readers can show what kinds of stories they care about.
- The New York Times is a deeply-in-debt, for-profit enterprise that needs to grow its traffic online in order to survive. Web editors should not pretend that it doesn’t matter how many ad impressions the Times serves each day.
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