News judgment vs. people’s searches

Poynter compares and contrasts newspaper editors’ choices for the top news stories of the year with the top 10 user searches on the most popular search engines.

My friend Julie Moos writes: “The list, based on 247 responses, shows the difference between newsroom leaders’ editorial judgment and people’s reading interests. Four of the stories picked by editors weren’t among the top 10 lists of user searches on Google, Yahoo or Bing.”

I suspect she knows that’s like comparing Osama and Obama. I participated in the editors’ survey for a few years. I made selections based purely on what I deemed the most important news of the year, and I am guessing that most of the editors did the same thing. Had I been asked to vote on people’s reading interests, I would have voted differently. (Although Charlie Sheen would have been on my “search” list and he didn’t show up anywhere, including Twitter. #NotWinning!)

Those surveys — and probably editors in general — have always been culturally ignorant so it doesn’t surprise me that Amy Winehouse, Conrad Murray and Casey Anthony didn’t make the top 10 with the editors.

What I would be more alarmed about as a newspaper editor is another story on Poynter about Google searches. Steve Myers reports the popularity in Google of searches of local news organizations. Out of the 30 markets reported, newspaper websites ranked No. 1 in only 11, including in Charlotte. (The News & Observer was ranked #7 in Raleigh, behind No. 1 WRAL. Interestingly, WRAL, a Raleigh station, was No. 3 in Charlotte.)

I could be misinterpreting the data because people could search for the name of the website and the paper. I hope I am.