Yahoo! News’ new news blog, which has been publishing in beta since April as “The Newsroom,” will officially launch sometime this morning under its new name, “The Upshot.” (Which we’re glad does not include the words “new” or “news” because that lede was a mouthful.)What to expect: Something akin to one of Yahoo’s individual sports blogs that will eventually grow into a network of topic-specific blogs showcasing writers like John Cook, Michael Calderone, Holly Bailey, Brett Michael Dykes and Chris Lehmann. Also: more photos and an RSS feed.
UPDATE: Here it is >>
Back in May, when we wrote about the blog, which got a whopping 57 million pageviews during the month of April, editor Andrew Golis told us that on top of the writers’ beat reporting, they would also utilise Yahoo’s search data to determine what types of articles people want to read.
“It doesn’t become our editorial director, but we can get that kind of data and do pieces that we know will resonate,” he said.
That’s the aspect New York Times media reporter Jeremy Peters decided to focus on in a July 5 piece titled, “At Yahoo, Using Searches to Steer News Coverage.”
Yahoo software continuously tracks common words, phrases and topics that are popular among users across its vast online network. To help create content for the blog, called The Upshot, a team of people will analyse those patterns and pass along their findings to Yahoo’s news staff of two editors and six bloggers.
The news staff will then use that search data to create articles that — if the process works as intended — will allow them to focus more precisely on readers.
In strictly economic terms, the power of technology that identifies reader trends is incredibly potent as a draw for advertisers. Yahoo paid more than $100 million this year for Associated Content, which pays writers small sums to write articles based on queries like “How do I tile a floor?” or “How do I make French toast?”
The piece doesn’t mention any of the reporting or news breaks the blog achieved during the beta period, which Golis and Calderone, who covers media for Yahoo! News, took issue with in a series of strongly-worded tweets Monday morning. (Disclosure: Calderone is a friend of mine.)
“OMG, online journos periodically use data to figure out what readers are actually interested in! PANIC! HANDWRING!” Golis wrote, adding, ” Seriously, NYT misses a forest of brilliant old school original reporting & analysis for an acorn of search insights,” and then: “Pretty strange when a reporter goes forward w/ an angle on a story after you’ve literally laughed at it dismissively.”
Calderone chimed in with, “NYT obsesses over use of a search tool; ignores boring, traditional stuff (breaking news, analysis, edit meetings,etc),” followed by: “NYT’s Peters mentions single Yahoo sports piece from 2 years ago; neglects past months of work b4 official launch Tues.”
Golis and Calderone declined to comment further than their tweets. But we reached out to Peters to see what he had to say.
“The work they’re doing at Yahoo News is great,” he wrote in an email. “And my article highlighted the search data aspect of their business not to downplay their journalism, but because that’s what’s most unique about what they do.”
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