Gone are the days when news organizations had just copy editors and page designers. Nowadays there are newsroom titles like digital optimizer, audience analyst and executive mobile editor. As social media platforms have evolved so have job titles, along with the tools journalists use to communicate with audiences. In this series, RJI will learn more about these titles and the people who hold them.

Anjanette DelgadoEver since Anjanette Delgado began working in online media in the mid-to-late 1990s, she’s wanted to learn more about audience behavior. Now she’s fully immersed in analytics as the audience analyst at The Journal News  in White Plains, New York, using tools like Chartbeat and Adobe Analytics to help her newsroom colleagues better understand their audience.

Delgado has held the position for more than a year. Although studying analytics was part of her previous position, others in the company shared the task. The new position was created as part of Gannett’s “newsrooms of the future” transition in 2014.

When Delgado spoke about metrics at the Online News Association’s annual conference last year, analytics was on the top of many minds, she says.

However, news organizations like The Journal News want to move beyond just tracking quantitative analytics such as page views and clicks and learn more about the impact their reporting is having. Despite real-time analytics tools becoming more robust and providing plenty of quantitative data, the amount of qualitative data is lacking with tools like Chartbeat, which does provide insights like engaged time on site, says Delgado.

News organizations like hers are particularly interested to see what impact, if any, their journalism is having on a community. To help with that, online staff at Journal News is building an impact tracker. According to Delgado, the tracker will be a central repository for recording real-world change such as lawsuits, firings and changes in the law that resulted from the news outlet's coverage.  

For now, Delgado and her team manually dig for and record much of these quantitative analytics. For example, a manual task could be as basic as looking to see if a key stakeholder has shared a particular Facebook post or as complicated as tracing a change in state law back to the news organization’s reporting, she says. 

As she pours over data, Delgado also seeks to answer questions about the readers — are the clicks from random individuals who stumble across a story but aren’t likely to come back or are they from local people who subscribe or could potentially subscribe?

Each story and topic performs differently on a platform like Facebook, she says. By studying past behavior, she can estimate how well a story, headline or topic will perform.

Delgado notes what time of day stories and videos do well and then uses that data to inform decisions about when to post future content. She studies every piece of data (i.e., headline, text teasers) to help determine why a reader clicked an article, liked or shared it, or wrote a comment.

One of the challenging aspects of her job, she says, is doing everything possible to boost a story but the readers don’t bite.

“Sometimes a story or topic resonated once because the right person shared it and you can’t make that happen a second time,” she says. “As much as we can learn and understand, in the end, sometimes it comes down to luck. But then that’s also what makes it really interesting. It’s less predictable.”

Curiosity is a key quality for people in analytics, she says, so naturally she’s inspired to learn more about The Journal News audience and its behavior.

“I'm always trying to answer every question, every why, every what,” she says. “That's where I find myself wanting more and more data and not being satisfied.”

Unfortunately, some tools like WhatsApp haven’t been as forthcoming with data, she says. As she ponders what the future holds and thinks about privacy concerns, she says she knows the amount of data she's able to collect will change as messaging apps and private browsing grow in popularity and as some platforms decide to share more or less information about their users. 

“So much of what I do depends on the data I’m able to get,” she says.

Sometimes her job involves experimenting with new tools such as Facebook’s Audience Optimization, to help the organization reach audiences better. The tool has both “audience restriction” and "preferred audience" features and allows publishers to target specific posts to certain demographics.

Some targeted posts had a smaller reach, says Delgado, but she’s seen increased click-thru and share rates on these posts.

“I have great expectations for it, but we just don’t have enough data to prove it yet,” she says.

What unique job titles do you believe should be featured in our series? Please send your suggestion to Jennifer at nelsonjenn@rjionline.org for her consideration.

Jennifer Nelson  
Senior Information Specialist


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