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Rebekah Monson is the co-founder of WhereBy.Us, a media and technology company that helps “people connect and engage in their cities.” She received a fellowship from the Reynolds Journalism Institute for 2017-2018 to examine better business metrics for small, independent publishers. With her fellowship, she aims to develop a data toolkit that gives small, independent publishers the ability to gather information from multiple audience engagement initiatives and analyze the data for continued relationships. 

Rebekah Monson. Credit: Ekaterina Juskowski, Miami Girls Foundation

I talked with Monson over email about what she has learned about metrics running her company, and how publishers, especially independent publishers, need to be better about marketing their stories to their audience to compete with platforms. Here’s a lightly edited version of our exchange. Many thanks to Monson for sharing her ideas.


You’re going to look at metrics with your RJI fellowship. Where’d the idea come from?

Rebekah Monson: Our team and all teams in the industry are looking at a whole lot of different metrics on-platform and off- to really understand our community’s interests, motivations and behaviors. We want to meet people where they are and give them the best possible experiences to get engaged with the people, places, and ideas in their changing cities. It’s not enough to do great storytelling alone, we have to continually iterate on our distribution and engagement strategies to help our work matter in the age of “peak content.”

The problem is that it’s not always easy for us to tell how these data fit together in context. We can make some decent conclusions on aggregate trends, and we’re mashing up the metrics we own in little experiments in all the time, but it’s hard to know how various engagements relate to specific actions. Among our cohort of small publishers, the resources and technical skill to do this work well are very limited, but not investing in it is a big barrier to growth and sustainability. We believe that in teaming up to do some focused research and in helping to build some tools to better understand user flows and behaviors, we can improve our own business as well as others that need help to grow reach, improve engagement, increase impact, and ultimately be financially strong.

Read the full Q&A 


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