Date of Award
Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)
Graduate School of Media and Communications
This study examined the adoption of web analytics by Kenya's top five news websites as ranked by Alexa.com on how online audiences impact news selection by online editors. The study was guided by four research objectives: (i) to determine to what extent web analytics monitoring are done by editorial teams, (ii) to establish factors driving the use of web analytics and what tools used, (iii) to establish how use of web analytics contributes to editorial decisions, and (iv) to identify the relationship between the use of web analytics and business decisions in newsrooms. The study was guided by two theories: Uses and Gratification and technological determinism. The study adopted concurrent research design and a mixed-methods research approach. Questionnaires and interview guides were used as data generation tools. The researcher adopted census survey and Key Informant Interviews as research methods. The sample size of the study was 43 respondents. This was achieved through stratified and purposive sampling techniques. The quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS (Version 25) and presented in form of pie charts and graphs while qualitative data was analyzed thematically. The study found that all top five websites in Kenya have appropriated several web analytics. They use them for content planning, newsgathering, gauging popularity of content, news placement, re-tweaking headlines, altering content placement, re-tweaking content and appeasing advertisers for commercial gain. Further, the study found that online newsrooms are nearly obsessed with monitoring web analytics but are consciously careful of letting that addiction and over-reliance change their functionalist role of informing, educating, persuading and entertaining audiences by turning them into online audience pleasers. The study concluded that online editors have wielded part of their gate-keeping role to audiences through the use of web analytics signaling a cultural change in newsroom practice. The researcher recommends that online newsrooms set clear editorial policies to ensure that the use of web analytics does not lead to the abandonment of the cardinal role of journalism, to be a watchdog that works for public interest and common good.
Muinde, J. M. (2020). Online audience as gatekeepers: the influence of web analytics on content selection in Kenya’s top five news websites (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, East Africa.