Once upon a time, way back before computers and the Internet, there was a princess of communications who worked in a large corporate kingdom. Like many other princesses of her time, she ruled a small fiefdom and a large Rolodex. Her job was to encourage the writers at newspapers and magazines to write happy articles about the corporation and its products.
She was good at her job, and had many happy articles to prove it. She measured her success by her many piles of articles. She saw her articles and smiled. For they were many, and filled with pleasing words, and were pleasant to behold. She knew the kingdom prospered because of her work.
But one dark day the King’s Advisors called her into the throne room. They were a nasty lot, mean and avaricious. They roared at her in displeasure. “Your piles of articles are not high enough!” they shouted. “Show us larger piles or you shall be banished from our kingdom!”
The princess was horrified. She pondered her uncertain fate, and the evil specter of banishment and potential unemployment. How could she make her piles of articles larger? How could she make them more pleasing to the King’s Advisors?
The princess thought and thought. She reviewed her fiefdom’s goals and objectives. They said her purpose was to get corporate messages into articles in a way that left potential buyers more likely to purchase the corporate products. The princess thought some more. She realized that the way to show that she’d achieved her purpose was to prove that she’d gotten those messages in front of the right audience.
How could she do this? She paced her tower room all weekend. At last she decided that she would have to make a new and different system to measure her success. She would have to sit down with the articles and read them all carefully. She would then decide if each article might have an impact on whether or not the corporate kingdom’s subjects and neighbors wanted to do business with it.
She realized that she couldn’t herself make that decision objectively, so she enlisted a young underling who was in the market for the corporation’s products. She explained to him that he needed to read each article, enter the date it ran, the publication it ran in, the title, a synopsis of what it said, who it quoted, and rate it on whether it left him more or less likely to do business with the kingdom in the future.
At the end of a week he had completed the task and gave the Princess the articles’ many details. Fortunately, her kingdom was famous for its spreadsheets, and she knew well how to use them. She made one to record all the details about each article, and to calculate numbers that described the articles.
The Princess used the spreadsheet to create a beautiful chart of many colors. The chart was the voice of her new measurement system. It expressed the total of the wisdom contained in the numbers. It showed that over time the number of people who saw the kingdom’s happy articles had risen dramatically. It proved that her fiefdom was doing its job very well. She had known this in her heart all along, but now she had a way to demonstrate it to the King’s Advisors!
Alas, when she presented her chart to the Advisors, they were confused. They could not understand what lay before their eyes. They were so used to seeing piles of articles they could not recognize the wisdom of the chart and its numbers. “Fie on these stupid numbers! Bring us large piles of articles!” they cried, and sent the princess away.
But the princess was undaunted. She had faith in her new measurement system. So she visited a neighboring kingdom, and there she showed her chart to a wise and important lord. He saw the chart and was pleased. The chart spoke to him, and he understood the wisdom of its numbers. He realized that her new measurement system was important. He saw that the future would hold many, many charts with very useful wisdom. He proclaimed that every communicator in the land should be using the princess’s new measurement system.
And so the princess was heartened and filled with happiness for the power of her system and its charts. She left her kingdom and visited the other corporations of the land. She showed them her charts and they were pleased. They asked her to make them their own charts, and to show them useful wisdom about themselves.
And so the princess founded her own kingdom, wherein she became Queen of Measurement. The Queen and her helpers read many articles for many other kingdoms, and found much useful wisdom in them. Her kingdom prospered, and all the land hailed her success. To this day, the world uses her measurement system.
And that my dearly beloved, is the true story of the birth of media analysis. ∞