Marrying Editorial Intuition and Data with Christian & Carson of US News

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a new Q&A series with customers. Every other week we’ll feature an awesome publisher and dig into how they’re making use of freshly grown insights. recently interviewed Christian Lowe, Managing Editor at US News & World Report, and Carson Smith, Web Analyst at US News & World Report, to gain a better understanding of how they’re making  editorial decisions. Data has long been at the foundation of US News, and as is such we were eager to learn how our publishers-built tools and data insights performed in the hands of data-hungry infromavores. Read on to see what Christian and Carson have to say about data and editorial intuition, and the analytics playing field.

The Thoughts of Christian Lowe, Managing Editor How are you using analytics  at your publication?

Christian:  Check trending stories and past story performance. Chart referrers. Make editorial decisions based on global story trends.  How  do you integrate analytics  into your workflow?

Christian: I have running all day from the moment I log into my workstation to the minute I leave. I’m near constantly checking the performance of our content and am benchmarking against past performance. I also have started to look at Macro trends like overall site traffic etc. What are some tips you would give to a peer about using data and analytics to make editorial decisions?

Christian:  Let the data inform your editorial decisions, don’t let them drive your content. Do you use look for opportunities to get more value out of existing content, help determine what new content you should create, or to evaluate performance?

Christian:  We need to find out what sorts of stories are working or not and why.

The Thoughts of Carson Smith, Web Analyst Why did you choose to use  at your publication?  

Carson:  The learning curve for enterprise analytics solutions can be steep. While basic information like top pages were accessed frequently by editors, more advanced features often went ignored.  gives our editors the power to easily access insights that were either not available or required an analyst. I’m sure you use or considered using other products. How did you decide on

Carson: At first I compared  directly with some other real time analytics products. But I realized it’s fundamentally a different tool. In addition to real time, it’s both backward and forward looking. What type of advantage do you feel you have with analytics?

Carson:  A focus on action-oriented insights over data dumping gives us a  big advantage. Our editors want to know why something happened and what will happen. helps answer both questions quickly. What are some tips you would give to a peer about using data and analytics to make editorial decisions?

Carson: Don’t throw intuition out the window. Use analytics data to hone your instincts so your intuition becomes more reliable. A lot of people are talking about different types of data journalism, but few people are really doing it. As one of the early movers on this trend, what is the most important lessons you’ve learned?

Carson: Data has long been a foundation of US News’ journalism, but not until recently have we been inundated by so much of it. An important lesson is to identify what data really matters for our business and readers. Analytics tools help to sift wheat from the chaff.

Thanks to Christian and Carson for providing their insight!