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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Pageview journalism

December 11, 2012

Jim Dalrymple at The Loop:

We aren’t focused on pageviews, but rather posting things that interest us. Of course, the hope is that they’ll interest you as well.

This is an interesting topic. And “pageview journalism” is an interesting phrase. The post that Jim links to on ZDNet describes pageview journalism as the act of writing about topics that a writer or editor believes will get the most pageviews rather than writing about what the writer themselves may think interesting. In other words, writing about Apple rumors will more likely generate more traffic than writing about amps. So a publication will focus on writing about Apple rumors. Traffic dictates content.

The Loop, however, has managed to stay true to the author’s interests and still find an audience that appreciates a balanced approach to its content publishing. One that definitely bends towards keeping up-to-date with Cupertino but still finding several off-topic posts as interesting.

Pageview journalism has other nasty side-effects besides just dictating the topics a publication focuses on writing. As we all know it can also have adverse effects on the reading experience of a publication.

For instance,The Loop’s RSS feed is an excerpt-only feed. This forces people like me who subscribe to the feed to visit The Loop in order to read the entire post. I think I understand why The Loop does this; to generate more members (who get a full-text RSS feed) or to generate more ad revenue to off-set those (like me) who are not paying members. It makes total sense to me why The Loop has done this but it certainly is a direct result of how they choose to earn revenue for their publication.

Of course, this isn’t nearly as egregious as, say, a site that purposefully splits up articles into multi-page layouts to generate more pageviews. Most of the publications that continue to do that crap we’ve all simply chosen to ignore. But it is definitely something that fits under the umbrella term of pageview journalism.

Update; December 17: Jim has tweeted me to say that only the long articles are truncated. After looking, of course he is right. So only the full articles need to be read on their site. Which makes perfect sense to me.