What We Are Reading Today: Metrics at Work by Angele Christin

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Updated 30 June 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Metrics at Work by Angele Christin

When the news moved online, journalists suddenly learned what their audiences actually liked, through algorithmic technologies that scrutinize web traffic and activity. Has this advent of audience metrics changed journalists’ work practices and professional identities? 

In Metrics at Work, Angèle Christin documents the ways that journalists grapple with audience data in the form of clicks, and analyzes how new forms of clickbait journalism travel across national borders.

Drawing on four years of fieldwork in web newsrooms in the US and France, including more than one hundred interviews with journalists, Christin reveals many similarities among the media groups examined—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. 

American journalists routinely disregard traffic numbers and primarily rely on the opinion of their peers to define journalistic quality. 

Meanwhile, French journalists fixate on internet traffic and view these numbers as a sign of their resonance in the public sphere. 

Christin offers cultural and historical explanations for these disparities, arguing that distinct journalistic traditions structure how journalists make sense of digital measurements in the two countries.

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.

What We Are Reading Today: Conditional Citizens

Updated 26 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Conditional Citizens

Author Laila Lalami structures Conditional Citizens as a series of personal vignettes and historical dives that are more broad than deep.
Lalami was born in Morocco and came to the US for graduate school. She stayed because she fell in love with an American, whom she married.
“Conditional citizens, in Lalami’s account, are not allowed to dissent or question the choices of their government; if they do, they are viewed with suspicion, their allegiance to their new country questioned. Conditional citizens also have less freedom of movement,” said Sonia Nazario in a review for The New York Times.
Lalami “is less insightful when she widens her lens to argue that all minorities in the United States — including people born here but of a race, faith or gender not shared by the dominant majority — are discriminated against by their government and others, a heavily worn argument,” Nazario added.
“While her book convincingly lays out the inequalities among citizens, she’s woefully short on remedies and specific ideas for achieving change,” the review said.