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Pros and Cons of Measuring Web Traffic–A PEJ Discussion Point

From time to time, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism will provide a forum for journalism practitioners and analysts to discuss crucial issues affecting the news industry. Today, we debut that feature, called Discussion Point, with essays from two veteran journalists who most recently worked in online news, Walter Shapiro and Jim Brady.

In his essay, former Washington Executive EditorJim Brady contends that the most important thing about web traffic metrics is how you use them. As the former executive editor of, Brady focused on combining the world-class journalism of the Washington Post with the endless possibilities of the online medium. During his tenure, the site won numerous awards inlcuding a national Emmy award, a Peabody Award, four Edward R. Murrow awards, and Editor & Publisher award, two Digital Edge awards, and two Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism awards.


In his essay, former Washington Bureau Chief Walter Shapiro warns about some of the journalistic pitfalls of tracking online readership. Shapiro is a columnist for AOL’s, which is launching this week. During more than three decades in journalism as a columnist and political reporter, he was worked online (, for daily newspapers (USA Today and the Washington Post), for weeklies (Time and Newsweek) and for monthlies (Esquire and the Washington Monthly). He is the author of “One-Car Caravan,” a book about the 2004 Democratic primary season.

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