Revised online news scoring system defines eight most troublesome factors
Despite past studies pinpointing online news delivery shortfalls, B2B sites have allowed these common flaws to persist. In fact, many sites have failed to overcome hurdles that only increased enterprise reporting can resolve. At the same time, basic editing mistakes—especially foggy writing—remain par for the course. And the ability of news writers to engage repeatedly with end-user sources often is unacceptable.
When Editorial Solutions Inc. launched its annual studies of online news seven years ago, the scoring system used seemed promising. The eight factors chosen for evaluation were impact, evidence of enterprise, direct quote presence, fast-paced introductory paragraphs, Fog Index score, average sentence length, word count, and use of embedded links.
This system sounded good at the time but the status quo hasn’t budged very much. Therefore, effective this month, I am introducing a revised system that I hope will fine-tune specific areas where we must do better. Here’s how the scoring methodology is changing, factor by factor.
- “Universality” will replace “impact” as a key scoring component. At least half of every news section should present actionable articles covering the broadest readership.
- “Enterprise” will continue to be evaluated, especially absence thereof. What is new will be a summary combining no-enterprise and low-enterprise items. Since site evaluations will continue to assess ten articles on the day of review, it’s hoped that more than half the articles will reflect high-enterprise effort.
- “End-user quotes,” if present, were acknowledged in the past but not scored. In the future, I expect this category to be a key point-getter.
- “News first” replaces fast-paced lede paragraphs. This change reflects my ongoing concern that too many articles use a source-first format. In the future, articles will earn an immediate zero score if their opening consists solely of identifying the person quoted, title, firm, name, and company product line. Please find another place to dump this information.
- The Fog Index calculation will remain. The target reading grade level falls between 10 and 12. Fog Index practice discourages excess vocabulary and endless sentences. In the past, I used average sentence length for evaluation purposes. That is changing as per the following explanation.
- “Sentence flow analysis” is an approach I’ve been experimenting with. The results, as described in a recent tweet, have been favorable. Most of the time, high Fog Index occurs because average sentence length exceeds 20 words. Sentence flow analysis immediately detects the presence of too many sentences running 25 words or longer. If you suspect a fog problem, your score on this factor will be penalized unless you employ immediate defogging.
- “Sequence” is a new factor often used during competitive analysis projects. In this case, the top score will be earned if the opening article is high impact and reflects enterprise. Articles that follow can be of the same caliber or slightly lower. An immediate zero score will be applied to opening items that are nothing more than low-enterprise puff pieces.
- “Unedited PR announcements” will be scored down. At the very least, these articles should be identified appropriately. Zero scores will be applied in those cases where unidentified announcements are lumped in with regular news sections.
The target score will continue to be 80.0. However, scoring will be adjusted as follows: Items 1 through 4 can each earn maximum score of 15 points. Each remaining factor can earn a 10-point maximum
So there you have it. Why wait? Try it out now. Or take advantage of the current 50% discount Editorial Solutions is offering for a review of your site. The new scoring system will be used for the review, which will include other useful ideas that might work for you. But don’t delay! This offer will expire at the end of August. For further details, e-mail me or call me at (201) 569-7714.