Performing a Mini Content Audit

Published July 2022

Have you ever wished you could have a deeply researched analysis of your newsroom’s output so you could understand the patterns and themes that your audience sees? You don’t need a team of researchers to experience the benefits of journalism content audits. The tips and worksheet below will help you capture new insights and learnings by taking a quick step back from your work.

Content analysis is both a generic term for analyzing content in a variety of ways, and a specific type of academic study. 

But you don’t have to know how to conduct a white paper, scientifically replicable, peer-reviewed content analysis to gain the benefits of this process. You can “do” content analysis just by picking up a text — a series of columns, a series of headlines, a series of tweets, broadcast transcripts — and asking it questions. “What does this text say about X? What does it say about y? How many times does it reference Z?” Essentially, using book report techniques you remember from school on your journalism can change how you think about your everyday work. All you need is to take a step back to see patterns you can’t see when you’re feeding the beast or up against deadline.

Let’s break it down into a few easy steps.

  1. Ask yourself a question: What do you want to learn about your work?
  2. Decide when and what you’ll dig into, and how much time you can dedicate to that.
  3. Come up with some categories to sort this content into. 
  4. After sorting your content into categories, examine the patterns that emerge.

The most important part of this is to build a process of collecting data that you can make meaning out of. Finding those patterns will help you make informed choices when reporting.

Download the worksheet below to take this process on yourself.