Schrodinger’s Audience: How News Analytics Handed America Trump

The Republican primaries with Trump have been far more entertaining than the primaries without Trump. CBS chairman Les Moonves has remarked that Trump’s candidacy “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” Ross Douthat has likewise noted that Trump is “such a gift to our industry.”

But I think the simple explanation puts the emphasis in the wrong place. Trump’s media dominance isn’t caused by public demand for Trump. It is caused by the media’s new tools for looking at the ratings!

Gawker CEO Nick Denton once proclaimed that “Probably the biggest change in internet media isn’t the immediacy of it, or the low costs, but the measurability.” Today, all online media outlets rely on sophisticated analytics to track, monitor, and judge which stories are the most popular. Some of these analytics are made public, through “most read,” “most emailed,” “trending” or “related” sidebars on their sites. Others are maintained internally, as a tool to aid editorial judgment.

The thing that we have to remember here is that the act of measuring a process will also change that process.

Source: Schrodinger’s Audience: How News Analytics Handed America Trump | Civic Hall