Metrics at Work: Journalism and the Contested Meaning of Algorithms

September 21st, 2020 - 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Online Event

When the news moved online, journalists suddenly learned what their audiences actually liked through algorithmic technologies that scrutinize web traffic and activity. How have audience metrics changed journalists’ work practices and professional identities? In Metrics at Work, Angèle Christin analyzes the ways that journalists grapple with audience data in the form of clicks, and how new forms of clickbait journalism travel across national borders.

Drawing on four years of fieldwork in web newsrooms in the United States and France, including more than one hundred interviews with journalists, Christin reveals many similarities among the news websites—their editorial goals, technological tools, and even office furniture. Yet she uncovers crucial and paradoxical differences in how American and French journalists understand audience analytics and how these affect the news produced in each country. The book shows how distinct cultural forces and journalistic traditions shape how journalists make sense of digital metrics.

Contrary to the popular belief that analytics and algorithms are globally homogenizing forces, Metrics at Work shows that computational technologies can have surprisingly divergent ramifications for work and organizations worldwide.


  • Angèle Christin - Assistant Professor of Communication and, by courtesy, of Sociology at Stanford University
  • Meredith Broussard - New York University, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
  • Stacy-Marie Ishmael - The Texas Tribune, formerly BuzzFeed News and Financial Times
  • Nikki Usher - University of Illinois, College of Media
  • Moderator: Fred Turner - Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication, Stanford University


This event is sponsored by the Digital Civil Society Lab, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, the John S. Knight Fellowship Program and the Department of Communication at Stanford University.