Revolt of the Page-Slaves?

When questioned about such criticism, Mr. Spanfeller said that’s a “fair thought.”

“One of the fundamental differences of online versus offline [is that] online is completely trackable,” he said. “You have 60, 70, 80 stories [in print], and you don’t know how well consumed each one is.”

Therefore, Mr. Spanfeller said, “not looking at the data would be foolish,” and “tracking page views is something that is very important.”

“There’s a lot of tension between editorial and management,” said a former Forbes.com staffer. “The editors do their best to insulate their reporters. You really can’t ignore it.”

Multiple former staffers cited the addition of Daniel Bigman as managing editor—second in command to editor Paul Maidment—in December 2004 as a moment when page views took on added importance at editorial meetings.

But last week another editorial change took place, with Mr. Bigman being moved to the head of the business channel—which one former staffer called a demotion. (Mr. Bigman declined to comment.)

However, Mr. Spanfeller said it was all a part of restructuring: “When I first got here, six and some-odd years ago, I had this vision of not a single site, but a coalition of sites.”

Mr. Spanfeller said that he now wants to have “a managing editor,” a “top dog” at each channel. Besides “Business,” there’s also “Tech,” “Markets,” “Entrepreneurs,” “Leadership,” “Personal Finance,” “Forbes Life,” “Lists” and “Opinions.”