In order to be a successful news organization no matter what your topic is, the audience is your most important aspect in keeping the company running. For newspapers you should always consider what the audience may think about a story before you post it for many reasons. If you do something that your audience doesn’t like it could result in, you losing your audience and without and audience you don’t sell papers and if you don’t sell papers you don’t have a business. Some things that may have a positive effect on your business could also have a negative impact at the exact same time.
According to an article titled “Sourcing the Sources” on www.tandfonline.com; changes in technology, changes in audience relationships, and innovation attributes are all three things that your audience should play a part in when making editorial decisions. Being that we are in 2018, most newspaper companies have already made the jump to where they produce paper copies and now online copies of the daily paper. The benefits are that you can now produce as much content as you want whenever you want without any limits because you are on the internet and not paper, the downside is that some of the loyal readers of your company may start to not read the paper anymore because they aren’t as good with technology and it becomes harder for them to access the paper. Changes in audience relationships and Innovation attributes can almost go together because with this ever changing society peoples views area always going to be different and changing, and so it becomes much more important to your audience that you get them the real factual information because fake news could ruin your business.
Sourcing the Sources. (2018, September 20). Retrieved December 3, 2018, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2018.1490658
Audience should be considered in editorial decisions because news organizations are businesses. One of the reasons these organizations sometimes fail is because of the loss of their audience, so in considering the audience in editorial decisions news organizations is making an effort to maintain audience loyalty. The issue with this is that to be too audience oriented is to sacrifice some degree of autonomy; Autonomy is one of the fundamental pillars of journalism. Apart from staying afloat as a business, considering the audience can actually enhance a news organization’s value. An organization that creates a hierarchy of importance with the way in which stories are organized and distributed is likely to be of more value to a community in comparison to one that is less strategic about what an audience needs to know versus what they want to know. Entertainment value is also important. As such pleasing the audience while providing them with the necessities is a balancing act for news organizations. This was an idea expressed by “The Audience Oriented Editor.”
Issues with considering the audience in editorial decisions is in determining who is one’s audience and what they actually need. The current methods used to accomplish this are sometimes questionable. The audience-oriented editor relies too heavily on insights gained from social media and other metrics. It must also be considered that these platforms only portray a limited view of an audience through their engagement- those engagements being likes, shares and comments. Ultimately this can lead to misinformation and inaccurate tailoring of news work toward audience needs.
Ferrer-Conill, Raul. “The Audience-Oriented Editor.” Taylor and Francis Online, 23 Feb. 2018, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2018.1440972.
Audience should be considered in editorial decisions to a certain extent. Yes, audiences are who you’re delivering the news to, so you have to be clear and precise in your writing or in your reporting to get them to understand what you’re talking about.
But, in terms of swaying the news a certain way to get audiences to agree with you is wrong because then you’re fabricating the news and only telling/showing one side of the story instead of all sides of the story. In that case, audiences shouldn’t be considered in that aspect of editorial decisions. But then audiences may become upset if the news doesn’t match their beliefs and be critical of the news. Journalists shouldn’t let audiences control the news, but should consider showing much human interest stories for audiences to relate to and feel heartfelt about while still being able to tell the hard news.
Audiences should also be considered in editorial decisions because as a reader of the news, audiences want to be able to not have to spend 10-15 minutes reading a lengthy article, so editors have to make sure to structure news articles to where the important information is at the top and lesser information is at the bottom, and then audiences can find the point of the story fairly quickly.
The textbook agrees with my statement on page 220. “… the information that people need in order to be communicators within a community gets squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces. The more papers attempt to make news items shorter and more accessible, sometimes stripping all but the most exciting facts…”
Source: Plaisance, Patrick Lee. Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice. SAGE, 2014.
Editors should consider their audience and have a strong awareness of who their outlet’s primary readers are. Considering a number of factors such as readers’ age, demographics, topics of interest and political identification are important when making editorial decisions of what a news outlet should include and prioritize. If you prioritize what your readers enjoy, that makes it more likely that you will retain their interest. Additionally, being aware of who your audience is allows you to grow your base of readers and/or viewers.
While catering to your audience is strategic, it could also have some negative consequences if an editor overestimates the majority or fails to represent minority interests in their decision making. Only representing the views or interests of your primary audience can lead to biased reporting and might actually inhibit the outlet’s ability to reach more people.
This week’s reading, The Audience Oriented Editor, notes how important it is for editors to balance “what the audience needs to know and what the audience wants to know.” This really stuck out to me as I think it perfectly articulates one of the major issues with journalism today. Editors and journalists are obligated to report the news objectively, but the line can begin to blur when considering what the audience wants to hear takes precedence over being objective and fair.
Just as fans of movies and television shows can potentially play a role in what the produce decides to do, editors may consider the communities (audiences) in their stories.
Why should audiences be considered in editorial decisions? Well, news circulates around the community and those who live in a certain community know it very well and have the potential to help journalists do their job. In the book it talks about the violence after the Rodney King beating and how news organizations looked to get beyond the daily reports of violence. What the paper in Akron, Ohio did was organize a nonprofit group called Coming Together and the activism paid off. The paper made a difference because the audience was considered in the editorial decision.
However, this example is also why audiences should not be considered in editorial decisions. Such as the book mentioned, many critics wondered if the paper crossed the line by abandoning their role as an impartial observer and became cheerleader journalism. What the paper did was good-hearted in many ways. However, consider another example from the book. What if a southern newspaper took a similar activist stand in the segregated 1960s, would they have been more accommodating towards white establishment or search for common ground of separate but equal?
Although there are situations where it is good to take audience into account in editorial decisions, there are others in which they shouldn’t to avoid backlash.
It is important to consider your audience when making editorial decisions. Based on the circumstances of the story, we should know what is and what’s not appropriate to implement into our stories. On page 220 in our textbook it says, “There are many different ways in which journalists have sought to connect with their communities and make sure that a focus on community as a news value drives decision making in newsrooms.” It’s important to connect to your audience and make sure you clearly state the news the most accurate and easily understood way possible. A benefit is that it makes your readers trust you and what you are saying is true. Not only that, but they will feel like they can trust the news will be reported accurate and in a timely matter. A major ramification of not considering your audience is losing trustful readers and also being attacked by many of them for fake news or just not reporting the way they want it to be. I personally would always consider my audience and drive community as a news value in my newsroom so my readers feel like they are valued and can trust our news with the best and most ethical reporting.