Tag Archives: media

Should metrics and audience analytics determine journalistic and editorial direction?

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The human factor or the Chartbeat culture? This is a debate that has been raging on in newsrooms everywhere (including here in Malaysia)  and the most common argument is that goofy cat photos would trump more significant issues like the Rohingya crisis, the Syrian war, political strife, etc.

Columbia Journalism Review’s Alexis Sobel Fitts wrote about a research done by Caitlin Petre where she studied how metrics influenced decision making in newsroom. She spent a lot of time in the offices of Gawker, The New York Times and Chartbeat.

At Gawker, a large monitor that displays the Chartbeat dashboard (which monitors the visitors to the site in real time) for everyone to see seems to dominate the way the reporters and writers work. (Oh my god! How familiar this must all sound to many!)

She observes that this negatively affected how they would experiment and try new things because they were too pressured to chase the numbers. In fact, apparently, the employees were evaluated on how much money they were making for the company based on CPM (how many dollars per 1000 visitors they brought in)!

This just sounds so wrong, in my honest opinion! It doesn’t reward originality and creativity, nor does it provide a healthy journalism environment.

Whereas at The New York Times, reporters do not have access to these metrics because they believe it would lead to reporters writing more about skateboarding dogs, Angelina Jolie and probably the Kardashians!

However, with all that being said, reporters and writers still constantly checked how well their stories were doing.

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At the end of Petre’s studies, she found out that The New York Times ended up hiring audience engagement analysts to make sense of how these metrics could play a role in editorial decision making, while at Gawker, a new system of putting editors in charge of determining writers’ compensation rather than numbers was implemented.

Oh well…

[Read the full article ‘When metrics drive newsroom culture’ at the Columbia Journalism Review]

Fat Bidin recommended reads, views and listens from the Internet this week


1. The New York Times’ report, ‘Rohingya migrants from Myanmar, shunned by Malaysia, are spotted adrift in Andaman Sea‘ by Southeast Asia correspondent Thomas Fuller (who I’ve worked with before) is very engaging and a very human story.


2. Radiolab’s episode called ‘Sight Unseen‘ speaks to photojournalist Lynsey Addario who got unbelievable access to a US military medevac team in Afghanistan. After she took pictures of a rescue attempt of a US soldier, drama ensued regarding the rights to publish the pictures. Classic Radiolab style creating drama about visuals using audio!

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3. I had assigned a very young but enthusiastic reporter Mariah Ahmad to Nepal right after the first earthquake that happened. She was wiling to go SOJO (solo journalist) with only a smartphone and a DSLR. Here is one of the photo essays she managed to produce for Astro AWANI.

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4. Another story from The New York Times. It’s episode 3, ‘A bionic approach to prosthetics controlled by thought‘, of a video series called ‘Robotica’. This particular episode is about bionic prosthetics that can be controlled by a person’s brain directly and we see in the video how Les Baugh, 59, who lost both his arms when he was a teenager, learns how to control his robot limbs for the first time.

Malaysiakini makes the right move to Whatsapp


When I talk about news, content and social media, I have always meant platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and all that. I could just kick myself for never thinking about Whatsapp, the messaging app on our smart phones.

But Malaysiakini did!

The country’s first news portal has recently launched a beta version of a Whatsapp Broadcast Service where they send out breaking news, headlines, and news digests out to subscribers.

Brilliant idea!

At the end of 2014, Whatsapp had accumulated 600 million users worldwide, according to a report by AFP. And it is the most popular messaging app in Malaysia.

There are challenges of course. The most obvious at the moment is that sending out messages on Whatsapp has to be done manually and there is a limit to the number of members in a group.

When the subscribers start to accumulate, it’s going to be difficult to start managing everything. Unless, Whatsapp starts thinking about this and addresses it.

And… it’s owned by Facebook!

The Fat Bidin Podcast (Ep 47) – What’s ASEAN’s deal with human rights, man?

The Fat Bidin Podcast (Ep 47) – What’s ASEAN’s deal with human rights, man?

Zan and Aizyl try and tackle the issue of boat people stranded at sea and the problems that have led to it. Featuring Klang MP Charles Santiago who also chairs ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) to help with context on the Rohingya crisis and ASEAN’s handling of the issue.

Listen to more Fat Bidin Podcasts here.

Facebook’s Instant Articles seems cool… for the content consumer


Last Wednesday, Facebook launched their Instant Articles feature where they ‘collaborated’ with several news organisations (The New York Times, National Geographic, Buzz Feed, NBC News, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel Online and Bild) to publish their content on Facebook’s own platform.

This means that when you click on a link/story by any of these news organisations on your FB timeline, you won’t be directed to their platforms. Instead, it you will remain on FB and everything loads faster (almost instantaneously) without any delay or buffering. And this includes audio, video and photos.

As a consumer of content, it’s actually pretty cool. But for now, it only works on smartphones for the time being and not on desktops or laptops.

For the news organisations, it might not be as ideal as it sounds because they won’t be hosting the content on their own platform. Hence, they would lose a degree of control (ie: presentation, revenue, etc)

However, FB is offering advertisements. The news organisations can choose to embed and sell advertisements themselves or allow FB to do it. They would receive full revenue for the first option, but shared for the second.

There are also reports saying that these news organisations really have no choice but to participate in this project because FB is just too big to ignore. (Read this article from The New York Times: Facebook begins testing Instant Articles from news publishers)

Oh well… interesting times as always for content producers and consumers!!