When It’s All About The Page Hits

A New York Times article that centers on burnout at Politico.com touched on an issue most journalists can relate to, no matter where they work:

Tracking how many people view articles, and then rewarding – or shaming – writers based on those results has become increasingly common in old and new media newsrooms. The Christian Science Monitor now sends a daily e-mail message to its staff that lists the number of page views for each article on the paper’s Web site that day.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all display a “most viewed” list on their home pages. Some media outlets, including Bloomberg News and Gawker Media, now pay writers based in part on how many readers click on their articles.

We all want readers, but writing with the primary purpose of winning as many eyeballs as possible doesn’t mean you’re doing good work, and it leads to an uncomfortable amount of stories about Lindsay Lohan.