dashboard_switches.jpg
Credit: Image from Pixabay
As the number of platforms available for people to consume news online continues to expand, so are the demands for newsrooms to monitor and learn from how their audiences interact with their journalism.

The number of third party services available to track online consumption behaviours has also increased, making it harder for journalists, particularly those working in smaller newsrooms, to prioritise and filter them according to their needs.

The US-based Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) was recently awarded $35,000 (£25,156) from the Knight Foundation Prototype Fund to develop One Liner, a platform to help journalists manage and understand the implications of using third party services, particularly popular platforms such as Chartbeat, Google Analytics or Parse.ly.

The idea originated from a conversation about how frustrating it can be to actually install these services, which often promise users that they require only one line of code in order to function on their websites.

"It got us talking about what specifically frustrates us about those platforms and things that we've heard from our members.

"And we finally landed on this idea that it would be great if you had a single place where you could evaluate these third party services to understand if you actually need to have these things on your site, or what the implications are in terms of privacy and performance when you use them," Ryan Nagle, director of technology at INN, told Journalism.co.uk.

One Liner will be available to all individuals and news organisations and it will act as a dashboard, where people can log in and briefly provide some information about the website they own before being presented with a pre-set list of platforms available for installation.

Nagle said the initial services available will be the ones used more frequently by newsrooms, such as analytics platforms.

After choosing what they want to add to their website, One Liner will give users an overview of what they need to know about each service and then provide a single, collective line of code that needs to be added to the website in order for all the platforms to function.

For example, for Google Analytics, the One Liner dashboard can tell people how to track down the key bits of information they need to look at in order to make the most of the service.

"Users won't have to go to Google Support or other documentation sites to try and track down all this relevant information themselves.

"It will all be in one place, curated and simplified by us, to the extent that we can make it easier for people to understand exactly what's going on and add it to their sites, or in some cases remove it," Nagle explained.

INN members range from smaller, one-man organisations to larger newsrooms such as The Texas Tribune, so the institute aims for the new dashboard to work for everyone, particularly journalists who don't have a background in technology or web development.

"Very small organisations that publish once or twice quarterly don't need to have Chartbeat on their site," Nagle said, "because that tool is for analysing traffic patterns and behaviour on a site in real time, so it's not going to help you make any editorial decisions necessarily if you're just publishing only every so often."

The dashboard will let users manage their access to existing platforms and add new ones as they become available through One Liner.

It will also give them information on how much adding a certain script will increase the page load time for their readers, the impact it can have on mobile audiences, and privacy implications.

The team is currently in the early development stages for One Liner, but a fully developed prototype should be available in July.

"We want to house this knowledge in One Liner to make it easier for people to understand what they're getting into when they're using these external services on their site," said Nagle.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).