Editors' Focus Still on Crafting Content, Says Study

Aug 10, 2012


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Article ImageEditors are not known for embracing change. So when Ebyline surveyed editors to see how social media and SEO have changed their jobs, it's no surprise that many still valued the basics of good journalism over other concerns.

According to Ebyline original reporting, depth/expertise, and exclusivity topped the list of content success factors followed by publication title and presentation. At the bottom of the editors' list were social media value, author byline, and SEO-which, to many web-focused audiences, may seem counterintuitive.

"So these are value judgments, based on editors' own experiences and preferences. We detected a strong sentiment factor biased towards traditional values and away from SEO and the like," says Peter Beller, director of content at Ebyline.

He adds, "Web editors were less likely than newspaper editors to list original reporting as the most important factors, although they still ranked it number one by a wide margin. They generally ranked social media value higher but not by much: average rating of 5.04 vs. 5.67 (out of eight, one being most important) for daily newspaper editors. Web editors value scoop/exclusivity as less important (4.34 vs. 3.40 for newspaper editors) and ranked SEO slightly higher (5.47 vs. 6.23 for daily newspaper editors)."

Despite the (natural) bias of editors toward producing quality content, they aren't completely in denial. Ebyline's survey revealed that nearly eight out of ten editors expected to have more responsibility for social media or online presence in the future. "Around half said audience or traffic development will take more of their time and more than a third think they will be on the hook for driving revenue soon," according to Ebyline.

"Take it as a sign of what editors think their publishers prioritize," says Beller. "Few editors I know relish having responsibility for online traffic or advertising opportunities and the other answers on this survey indicate that the vast majority of editors still think of themselves as helping to craft news coverage and train journalists."

But the web is changing all of that, and as the study revealed many editors are pulling double duty as both print and web editors-having to create in-depth, feature stories for print and short web-friendly material all while concerning themselves with SEO and shareability. In short, editors are getting a lot more work piled on their plates, and it may be time for companies to start thinking more holistically about editorial teams, providing the kind of support to editors that they need to create great content while still bringing in page views.  

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