When a reader emailed this video to us we weren’t sure if it was a hoax or not. The animal eerily looks like something from the movie Alien. It took a bit of legwork to establish the truth.
Video courtesy Shell Oil Co.
Sometimes when we are discussing what stories we should cover, I think that the most important editor is the one not in the room: the reader.
Our marketing experts tell us the average age and income of our visitors. We know that slightly more men than women read our stories. We know that a majority are college-educated.
But it’s what our visitors do on our site that has the greatest impact on us. This isn’t information visitors tell us about themselves–it’s what they do and don’t do anonymously through the click of their computer mouse that we can monitor in statistical reports.
How does this relate to the giant squid video? Read more in the extended portion of this post.
We have learned over the years that some of the most popular stories are about sea monsters, particularly the giant squid. We know what’s popular because we can monitor how many stories are opened and how much time visitors spend on average on each story.
Our world is filled with statistics such as entry and exit rates, previous and next page flows, and so on.
That’s how we know our visitors really like the giant squid. (And also giant catfish, but that’s a topic I’m working on for later.)
We’ve become conditioned to look for stories about giant squid.
So when the video popped up in our in box we swung into action. After all, it’s a squid and it is weird.
Contributing writer Kelly Hearn was assigned to look into it. The squid is real and, as is often the case, reality is more interesting than a hoax could be.
This is not the first time that we have done a story based upon a lead sent in by a reader. We’d like to do more of them.
Send us your video, photos, observations, and ideas. We promise to consider them. After all, you are our most important editor.
Most popular National Geographic News stories about giant squids: