Guest Post: A Fledgling Data Journalist Visits Chartbeat

Anna Li will be graduating with an MA in Journalism from Stanford next month. She focuses on multimedia reporting and digital journalism with an emphasis on data visualizations, photography and visual storytelling. She visited the Chartbeat HQ back in March, and was awesome enough to share her impressions on our blog. You can get in touch with Anna via email, or post your comments below.

My team of graduate journalism and computer science students from Stanford University visited Chartbeat’s office, a few blocks away from the bustling Union Square in Manhattan, to learn about the start-up’s latest projects.

For the past three days, we had visited top-tier publishing companies in New York, many of which use the Chartbeat Publishing dashboard on a daily basis. I had heard good things about their real-time analytics, valuable for making editorial decisions on the web.

Chartbeat’s team didn’t disappoint.

Data Scientist and self-identified “machine learner” Josh Schwartz showed us Engaged Time, a metric that measures the amount of time an audience is actively consuming content. Engaged Time correlates with a reader’s likelihood of returning to a specific site. Loyalty to a site is a concept often discussed but rarely effectively tracked because it’s difficult to accurately determine a loyal online user.

In the days of print newspapers, a loyal reader might be a subscriber who has had the same paper delivered to the same address for twenty years. Today, it’s harder to tell. How many people are actually reading the articles? Are they coming back? What can I do to increase the odds of them coming back tomorrow?

Alex Carusillo, Chartbeat’s advertising product guru, self-titled as “smash brother” on Chartbeat’s website, shared insights on what he believes advertisers placing ads in print and online newspapers are seeking.

As part of my team’s visit, we shared an innovative project we’re working on at Stanford. My team is building a system that allows publishers to better understand their published content and who is reading their news articles by tagging news articles and incorporating social data about readers. Josh, Alex and Suneet Bhatt, VP of Marketing, provided great feedback for our project.

Looking ahead, we’re hoping there will be opportunities to partner with Chartbeat. It was a great experience — I certainly learned a lot about pain points in the journalism industry, through the lens of a start-up focused on connecting the business and editorial sides of online publishing through actionable, universal metrics.



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