The Inky and DN: Just Like Gawker?
The Inquirer and Daily News recently installed some new technology in their newsrooms—flatscreen monitors running a web analytics service called “Chartbeat,” which displays the stories people are reading online, in real-time. Gawker already uses a wall-sized display with Chartbeat data to keep its staff churning out the right snark, on the right topics, to drive web traffic through the roof. But whereas a site like Gawker exists solely to unashamedly fill a particular niche, raising pandering to a sensational new artform, daily newspapers conceive of themselves as a very different animal.
Traditionally, dailies try to strike a balance between sugar and medicine—between the stories that are more purely entertaining and the information we need to know. So, will philly.com, now plugged into Chartbeat, soon fill our ravenous maw with boobs, cars, football, murder, narcotics and Danny Devito sightings?
One can hope.
But in real-time, right now, the papers are preparing for a company wide meeting at which a new effort to sell discounted Android tablets preloaded with the philly.com app will be officially unveiled. The meeting is happening at noon at the Academy of Natural Sciences, for some reason, creating a massive gap in the day for a staff that needs to put out a newspaper and funnel a constant stream of content to philly.com. So almost no one’s picking up their phone (and I’m at 15 calls and counting). But it will be intriguing to watch, over time, and see if the philly.com site starts trending in a specific direction, responding to all those real-time analytics. At the moment, however, it seems the monitors got a soft launch at the DN, where one staffer wasn’t aware of their existence and another said, simply, “Yeah, there’s some monitor here with real-time info but there was no announcement about it.”