Too much information?

BJ Roche

I put Google Analytics on my website recently. It’s free if you have a gmail account. And it’s pretty easy. You just copy a bit of code and put it on the site.

Al, my web guy, had set up another stat site that helped me see where people were linking from. From this I’ve seen how my Boston Globe Travel Section story on Beachcoming on the Thames has been linked to by three other sites, including an English jewelry maker who uses her beachcombing finds in her jewelry. So this story is living on, gaining readers each week.

But Google Analytics goes deeper.

The level of information it gives me on the visitors to my site, is both fascinating and a little disturbing. I can see how many unique visitors, what stories they looked at, and even what city they are in.

I wonder: who is that person in Chicopee reading my site? What flavor Pop-Tart did (s)he have for breakfast? Google Analytics doesn’t tell me that. Yet.

Should this worry us?


About journalismprof

Steve joined the journalism faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in August 2007 and has been working to incorporate multimedia across the curriculum. Since arriving at UMass, Steve has developed three courses modeled after his multimedia journalism course. The courses allow students to work in teams in a newsroom-like environment where they work on packages -- using video, audio and photos to tell stories. He is also working with students on developing, a news Web site staffed completely by students. Steve has more than 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at He also edits part-time for with the NFL and college football network.
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