Credit: By Mark Fischer on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

When calculating the "success" of journalists' work, a global study published today found the metric of unique visits to stories to be "the single most important measure".

The annual Oriella Digital Journalism Study found that 50 per cent of the 545 journalists questioned as part of the study, named unique visit statistics as one way in which "the success of their material is evaluated".

The study, which gathered responses from journalists across 15 countries, added that respondents in Canada indicated this the "most strongly", with 86 per cent of journalists referring to unique visits, followed by 68 per cent of US journalists.

Globally, page views closely followed, with 47 per cent of journalists highlighting this as a way their success is measured, while 39 per cent referred to the growth of social media communities. Just over a third pointed to the number of 'likes' or tweets about a story (36 per cent), while the same percentage referred to the comments below the article.

A quarter of respondents (26 per cent) said advertising revenues were used as an indicator of success, while just 17 per cent said the volume of exclusives they pulled in is used a measure of their performance.

"Once upon a time, editors would have looked at the number of pieces making print, and the number of exclusive articles, as a yardstick of journalist performance," the study states. "Today, publications' use of social media to promote their own content, plus the inherent 'trackability' of digital content, means publishers have a much wider variety of metrics they can look at."

Digital-first operations

The study also found that more than a third of respondents (39 per cent) considered their media operations to be "digital-first", which was defined by the study as meaning they would publish breaking news to the web immediately, instead of waiting to share the story on more traditional platforms.

According to the study, "the trend is especially pronounced in Canada, India, Russia, Italy and Sweden".

The study also reports that 28 per cent of the journalists asked said they "produce multiple versions of the same story as it develops", adding that this acts as "compelling evidence that real-time digital journalism is going truly mainstream".

In terms of different content, the study found that more video is being produced in-house, compared to last year. Half of the respondents to this year's survey (49 per cent) said their media outlet creates video content internally. Other digital reporting styles, including infographics, blogs and mobile apps, have also grown in use according to the respondents, when compared to last year.

Robin Grainger, director of international, at Brands2Life, which is part of the Oriella PR Network, told that these results show that brands "can't keep replying on static written words and photographic images".

"Our content needs to be a lot more dynamic than that, our content needs to be a lot more versatile than that, it needs to be a lot more digital than that."

In a press release he added that "the growing interest in 'digital-first' reporting, video, real-time news, mobile content and citizen journalism all exemplify what we're calling the 'new normal for news'.
"If these trends accelerate, there are some potentially game-changing ramifications for media and communicators alike."

Digital Journalism Study 2013

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