Members are asked to blog on the last Friday of each month on a single topic.
This month's topic is: "How Do We Measure Impact?"
Of course, there are endless metrics for measuring the 'impact' of an online story - whether website, print or video, from hits to unique visits to time on site and so on
But what do they really mean?
When I was MUCH younger, I used to report for The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour on PBS.
The joke was that the show only had 535 viewers... but they were all members of Congress.
There was probably something in that.
When there were only three networks you could get easily get a massive 'mass' audience. Those days are over, with more than 1000 cable channels and about 1 million web options, but the mentality of 'mass audience' is still pervasive.
Every web site is eager to garner as many eyeballs as they can, in the rationalization that those big numbers will drive advertising rates and so build the value of the site.
I am not so sure this is right anymore.
Bigger numbers means a more disparate audience (and more desperate management), and the concurrent manipulation of content to match SEO ultimately warps the original intent of the site and so begins a spiral to meaninglessness. Some time ago, CBS News launched a new show called Trending Now. I wrote to the host of the show and asked what, exactly, was the point of creating a news show to reflect what eveyone was clearly already talking about. Fortunately, they killed it when they prematurely reported the death of Steve Jobs. Apparently, that was 'trending' but not true. But then again, does it matter?
As more and more content begins to fill the blogosphere and cyberspace and the cloud and wherever else 'it' all is, the competition for the Holy Grail of mass audience becomes ever more intense, and as such, the content itself becomes ever more amorphous.
Yet where is the 'real' value?
Some time ago, the head of a major magazine group said to me 'I publish a golf magazine,and all I can extract from my readers is $35 a year. These are the same people who will spend $10,000 a year on equipment or greens fees or trips. What am I doing wrong?"
The web gives us access to discrete groups with specific interests. Our goal should be 'narrowing the field', not expanding it. Creating affinity groups with a common interest and common goals, and then, making it possible for those people to achieve those goal - whether its contributing to a new project - as in Kickstarter, or going on a golfing trip to St. Andrews.
A 'big' audience is worthless, if all you can provide is a few stories to read or a few videos to watch.