Online tracking drives editorial coverage?
Interesting article in the New York Times this weekend suggesting that improved data gathering of online reader sentiment at publications like the WSJ and Washington Post may now be influencing their editorial focus.
It's a timely debate: how much newsmakers should be responding to as well as shaping reader interest. Certainly gauging public sentiment is no bad thing and, as the Times article points out, newspapers have been somewhat insulated from a process of basic market research that has obsessed almost every other product since the dawn of capitalism.
But isn't there something still to be said for the dogged anti-populism of the old newspaper business? What would the Washington Post's new online system say about Woodward and Bernstein? Would the Watergate expose have been abandoned due to lack of reader interest?
As a tech nerd I obviously enjoy seeing better data enable smarter decision-making within any organization. But while reading the article I couldn't stop thinking about Henry Ford's favorite aphorism : "If I'd have asked people what they wanted, they'd have said faster horses."