By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Bill Dedman’s “investigative slideshow”

The Absurd Intellectual calls Bill Dedman’s latest effort “an investigative slideshow.” Dedman, an investigative reporter for MSNBC.com, has posted a story consisting of 47 slides and some 2,700 words on Huguette Clark, the reclusive, 103-year-old daughter of the scandal-plagued Montana mining magnate and U.S. senator William Andrews Clark.

Can you tell a complicated story using nothing but pictures and captions? Yes, says Dedman, though, in an interview with Poynter, he admits that some “complexity” is lost. Nevertheless, it has been a hit with readers. Dedman tells Poynter:

The page views so far are 78 million. There are 47 slides, so that’s the equivalent of more than 1.6 million people reading every slide. Not that it works that way, of course; some people dipped in and out. In all, 2.2 million unique users (computers) went to the slide show.

Dedman also describes what he sees as the difference between a good slideshow and a bad one: “I’m not a fan of slide shows that are created just to generate page views. If you have 10 reasons the Red Sox are going to be better this year, just tell me the 10 reasons; don’t make me click through 10 slides to find out. The readers know they’re being manipulated.”

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4 Comments

  1. Aaron Read

    This raises an interesting point. The Globe is NOTORIOUS for those “20 Things about the Red Sox/Patriots/etc” slideshows (and Dedman is right; they’re obnoxious as hell) and often they’re hyper-inflated because they include two extra slides for each real slide: a slide for a user poll and then a followup slide with the results of the poll.

    So just one of those features can increase a single user’s pageviews by a factor of 10 or 20.

    Could that have an impact on why the Globe is supposedly the “biggest website” of all the regional newspapers in the US?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Aaron: Good question, but I doubt many people actually click more than two or three times on those things. You’re right — they are obnoxious as hell.

  2. Aaron Read

    @Dan: the ones with the polls are getting people, in large numbers, to click thru the entire preso…because you can see the vote totals…and they’re usually several hundred to a few thousand people; all the way to the last few polls in the slideshow, too.

    So that means one 10 “question” slideshow with polls with 1200 participants creates 36,000 pageviews. And realistically it’s probably more like 40,000 – 50,000 as the majority of people, as you say, don’t fill out the polls and don’t view more than a handful of slides…but they still add up.

  3. Bob Turosz

    Aaron’s right that the Globe is notorious for these slideshows. There’s a prime example on Boston.com today of the JD Power list of most reliable automobiles. No need to make the viewer click through 20 slides. It’s very manipulative.

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