At the end of the day, an audience is what will make or break a publication. With the emergence of search engine optimization (SEO) and social media, audiences today are very much active as opposed to passive consumers. While audience consideration is imperative, it is also important to remember journalism’s primary objective, which is to serve as a watchdog.
When considering what to cover in each week’s edition of The Tangerine, I always consider what will be relative to our audience, which is primarily made up of college students. While I want us to report on relevant issues, I also understand that what is relevant to me may not be to our audience. That is why I have found that it is important to find a balance between what readers should know and what they want to know. Obviously, if I were to structure the paper around a certain topic, then I am going to isolate a fair amount of potential consumers because everyone consumes media differently. At the same time, I also think that it is the responsibility of journalists to report what people need to know, not just what they want to hear. However, the power of the media to influence and imply importance by reporting on something comes with great responsibility — this is where the audience-oriented editor working as an intermediary between audience data and a newsroom can come into play. (Ferrer-Conill & Tandoc Jr., 2018)
Whether an editor likes it or not, audience must be considered in the 21st century newsroom given the presence of social media and the role it plays in news gathering. However, there is a fine line between gratifying an audience and educating an audience. Covering what an audience would agree with may work, but it can also lead to confirmation bias.