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University of Missouri: Revamping reporting using Parse.ly

The community outreach team at the Columbia Missourian, a daily newspaper affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism, has relied on the same weekly analytics report to help improve its editorial strategy for the past three years.

When the students at the Missourian began using Parse.ly, they were able to better understand their audience by tracking referrals, comparing mobile and desktop traffic, and seeing the timing of spikes. Armed with these new insights, student Daniela Vidal decided to revamp the weekly analytics report.

Now, they can answer pressing questions: What did we learn about our audience? What does this mean for reporters and editors, the outreach team, the copy desk?

Vidal questioned: “How do we define success? And do our numbers reflect our definition of success? More importantly, does our newsroom care about this?” when she completed the project, the Missourian weekly analytics report was more user-friendly and easier to read.

“When I started the process of restructuring the report, I learned that it’s not just sending a report that matters,” Vidal said. “It’s having a newsroom culture that will appreciate and act on that insight. As I talked with editors and teammates, I realized people want to know about analytics quickly, and want an opportunity to dive deeper if they’re really interested.”

Parse.ly’s dashboard helps the Missourian team to better communicate what its readers are doing on the site, and why. Now, they can answer pressing questions: What did we learn about our audience? What does this mean for reporters and editors, the outreach team, the copy desk?

Here are the types of insights that the Missourian has been able to gain from using Parse.ly to help with its new reporting structure:

  • Readers will consume content that’s a little out of the ordinary, and has a visual element that brings the story to life.
  • Our readers value explainer pieces on an issue they might not have known existed.
  • Our audience wants updates and a one-stop shop to peruse what happened and how things are playing out now.

Each week the Missourian team looks at the top (and bottom) 50 stories and works together to determine an average and a median for key metrics. These numbers provide an additional reference point for reporters looking to create content that resonates.

And finally, the team displays the Parse.ly dashboard on a big screen in the newsroom, highlighting the previous day’s top stories and social posts.

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