News Stats

News Stats provides a wealth of data about online news sites. Among its automatically updated metrics: performance factors (e.g., load times, page-weight, accessibility, Google PageSpeed and Mobile-Friendly scores), technologies used (including ad networks, analytics, and CMS), and audience indicators (such as Alexa Rank, circulation, Facebook likes, tweet counts).

Table of news site performance measurements

Journalists and researchers can query the database about:

  • Individual sites — Graph the Boston Globe’s bounce rate over time.
  • Sector comparisons — Which get more web traffic: broadcast news, newspapers, or online-only news?
  • Industry acreages — What are the most popular ad and analytics tools? Which load the fastest?

Scatter plot of news sites metrics

Our sample size is close to the entire population (i.e., all media sites), thus sample bias is low, so statistical accuracy is high. The goal of News Stats is to improve discussions on the state of modern media, to offer a tool that enables a more evidence-based approach.

I developed a News Stats prototype on a private site, as part of my Reynolds Journalism Institute fellowship research on newspaper website page speeds. This post has screenshots of its auto-generated charts, search results, and a correlation matrix.

Load-times factors correlation matrix

Your sites are slow. They’re actually slower than reading the paper.

—Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, to the Newspaper Association of America, 2009

At RJI we published the first complete set of data on U.S. newspaper sites load-times in “Newspaper load times give ‘slow news day’ new meaning”.

This lead to an investigation of why newspaper sites are slow, resulting in “How monetizing became malvertising”.

I can think of nothing that has done more harm to the internet than ad tech. It interferes with everything we try to do on the web. It has cheapened and debased advertising and spawned criminal empires.

—Bob Hoffman (The Ad Contrarian), “How Much of Your Audience is Fake?” Bloomberg News

The News Stats data contains a gold mine of media insights. The News Stats tool allows quick and easy ways to discover these insights. Working with Nieman/Harvard journalists and statisticians, we will refine the tool, via usability tests, to reveal the best ways to access and deliver results.

Individual news site data

The central fable of digital news is what we might call the Myth of Monetization. The bottom line is that newspapers cannot monetize audience they do not have. Any successful strategy for digital local news requires sites to grow their audience. Perhaps the single most consistent finding, across the entire web traffic literature, is that faster load times lead to higher traffic.

—Matthew Hindman, Shorenstein Center, “What Newspapers Don’t Know about Web Traffic Has Hurt Them Badly — But There is a Better Way”

News Stats index of sites