Friday, December 10, 2004

Google-based metrics for Journalists

Click here for AmazonThe little blog has been getting a few new viewers lately, thanks to an overly kind Hugh Hewitt, who mentioned it in his latest WorldnetDaily Column ("Do the Math").

Hugh's premise is that web journalists, and especially their patrons, should be interested in the traffic generated by their columns. Is the WaPo, for instance, really getting their money's worth with the likes of E.J. Dionne? And how does that traffic stack up against, say a Bill Bennett?

Even without Nielsen-style ratings, there are some interesting metrics to be gathered on the web. Google made its fortune by using hyperlinks to determine the importance of a page. Why not try a similar approach for Journalists? Here's a quick list I just assembled, which summarizes the number of mentions of each exact phrase in the Google index.

518,000 Rush Limbaugh
469,000 Ann Coulter
368,000 Hugh Hewitt
254,000 Walter Williams
204,000 Sean Hannity
189,000 Thomas Friedman
177,000 Bill Bennett
77,000 E.J. Dionne
40,100 Alan Colmes
32,000 Thomas Oliphant (includes Tom Oliphant)

I think this is useful data, even without vetting the results (which we can do) or using date ranges (an advanced capability of Google). With date ranges, we could plot trend-lines and determine which pundits are quickly rising or falling - in the blogosphere and elsewhere.

Failing accurate Nielsenesque ratings, perhaps the powers-that-be can use a Google-based approach to determine how relevant (or irrelevant) their contributors truly are. And what the trends are...


All of this was reminiscent of my activities during the recent presidential campaign season, in which I -- without realizing it -- was following the Hewitt playbook.

I had a blog that, at the peak of the electioneering, was attracting a modest number of visitors per day. I wrote a guest editorial for the local newspaper that touted the president's activities in the war on terror and, strangely enough, offered facts to back up its core assertions. I even subbed for Ann Coulter on the Billy Cunningham show, which may have been my personal highlight of the year.

Of course, a few weeks later, I actually read Hewitt's playbook, entitled "If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat (subtitled, "Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It")... I then realized I'd been doing most, but not all, of the right things an individual can do to help win an election. My advice? Read it. We only have a couple more years to prepare for Hillary.

No comments: