Last week, Newswhip asked, “What if front pages were selected by newspapers’ readers instead of their editors?”
The social news tracker gathered the front pages for the Toronto Star, the New York Times, the Guardian and other international papers, then tracked the most-shared stories on the corresponding websites for the same day. The “People-Powered” front pages often showed very different stories than the ones chosen in news meetings.
For the Star, news about an associate of Toronto’s infamous mayor Rob Ford was replaced in the socially shared version with a health story about red wine.
Other top-shared stories that made the People-Powered A1 lineup included a story about unpaid internships (always a hot topic with the Star’s readers) and an update to a plan for a Chrysler car plant that merited a breaking news alert when it was first announced.
Rounding out the social news front page is a story about Canada Post community mailboxes. That’s not a surprise — reader reaction was swift and strenuous both on social media and in the comments area back in December when Canada Post first announced community mailboxes as part of its five-point plan.
The experiment garnered some good discussion on Twitter about why some stories are shared on social media, even if they aren’t the “blackline” story of the day.
Maybe they are shared precisely because they aren’t given prominence?
We’ve long known that the stories that people read and share online often bare little resemblance to the stories given top billing in the paper version. Readers find us in print, on desktops, mobile and myriad social channels. Consumption habits are different depending on the medium — they depend on many factors including the mood of the reader, where they are and what they are doing at the time.
As the Star’s social media team editor, I’m constantly taking those factors into account when developing and carrying out the social strategy. The Newswhip side-by-side comparisons are a good visual reminder of the different needs and preferences that readers have, depending on how they are finding us.
View all the People-Powered front pages here.