Quality Clicks

Click-bait attracts eyeballs and generates income, but is rarely newsworthy. That is what Jeffrey Dvorkin says in a column for PBS Newshour. Dvorkin, currently director of the journalism program at the University of Toronto, worked as chief journalist at CBC Radio and NPR. Is the power of the click a threat to quality journalism?

In How News Media are Developing and using Audience Data and Metrics, Federica Cherubini and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen review how European and North American newsrooms use analytics. They state that journalists both need and want to work with online data. Earlier skepticism changed into interest in how to target their audience and improve their work. Nielsen and Cherubini see it as a positive development that journalists are actively involved in the evolvement of analytics and metrics. “Because if they are not part of that process, the tools and techniques developed will continue to reflect and empower commercial and technological priorities more than editorial priorities” (Cherubini & Nielsen, 7).

Dovrkin goes against this notion. According to him, digital first and the pressure of clicks has affected the notion of skepticism within the field of journalism. When it comes to digital, there is “unquestioning enthusiasm” (Dvorkin, PBS). In my opinion, it is a combination of both points of view. Yes, clickbait can affect quality journalism. Editors are often sensitive to a lot of traffic, but also (more and more) to the minutes people spend reading an article. And higher quality would in most cases lead to more reading minutes. In short, it is a positive development that journalist are actively involved with online data however clicks should not be the dominant factor within the data. The key is finding a balance in the fast evolving field of online journalism, data and metrics.

By Thomas de Man – 293 words


Cherubini, Federica, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. Editorial Analytics: How News Media Are Developing and Using Audience Data and Metrics. Oxford, UK: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2016. Web.

Dvorkin, Jeffrey. Column: Why click-bait will be the death of journalism. PBS. 2016. Online.

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