Audience as clicks : Web analytic tools in Finnish online newsrooms

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Title: Audience as clicks : Web analytic tools in Finnish online newsrooms
Author: Bessonova, Anna
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2013
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Media and Communication Studies
Medier och kommunikation
Abstract: Previous research has shown that media organizations are increasingly relying on audience-measuring metrics derived from web analytic tools for news judgment. This reliance is said to be reshaping online journalism, raising the questions of audience power, tabloidization of content and the role of journalistic values. However, research on web analytic tools in news media is scarce and does not describe how and to what effect the tools are used in various types of news media. Therefore, this study was set up to discover how web analytic tools are used in Finnish online newsrooms and how their use affects relationship with the audience and journalistic content. To answer the research questions, nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with web editors and online journalists from Finland’s major news media. To observe possible differences in the use of web analytic tools, the sample included different types of media organizations: public service broadcaster YLE, broadsheet and business news dailies Helsingin Sanomat, Kauppalehti, Talouselämä, Taloussanomat, general news media UusiSuomi, Aamulehti, HBL, and a more entertainment-oriented Iltalehti. Once gathered and transcribed, the interviews were coded and analyzed with grounded theory qualitative data analysis. The findings showed that web analytic tools are extensively used in Finnish online media and their use does affect journalistic work but as one factor among others. Data derived from web analytics was perceived to bring journalists closer to their readers, intensifying the dilemma of balancing news agenda between audience preferences and journalistic values. Online journalists and web editors were found to rely on web analytics for immediate handling of stories in real-time and for long-term strategic decision-making.
Subject: grounded theory
web analytic tools
online journalism
journalistic content
journalismi -- sisältö
kvalitatiivinen tutkimus

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