At Salon, Richard constantly analyzed revenue per thousand page views vs. cost per thousand page views, unit by unit, story by story, author by author, and section by section. People didn’t want to look at this data because they were afraid that unprofitable pieces would be cut. It was the same pushback years before with basic traffic data. People in the newsroom didn’t want to consult it because they assumed you’d end up writing entirely for SEO. But this argument assumes that when we get data, we dispense with our wisdom. It doesn’t work that way. You can continue producing the important but unprofitable pieces, but as a business, you need to know what’s happening out there. Requesting politely to stay in the dark will not serve journalism.
What exactly is it that writers do, now stories can be told in so many ways? This post by @moongolfer links The Story, CERN and journalistic storytelling robots to come to the conclusion:
And writers? Well, they need to find a use for what they do, I guess. Because a story for its own sake written from a single point of view – digital or otherwise – is increasingly looking like it isn’t enough.
Journalists are facing down this problem online, now, as well as creative writers and other sorts of digital storytellers. In a way, it’s comforting to remember it’s not just written news but all sorts of writing that’s wrestling with these questions. And it’s also comforting to remember that things like Instapaper, the Long Good Read, Longreads and a vast array of others are whirring away, proving that for many people, yes, a written story is enough.