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The conventional wisdom of the digital era is that journalists can now know about the people reading their stories in far more intimate detail than at any other time in the history of the profession. Previously, journalists based their audience knowledge primarily on their closest social circles. Now, new tools can help them solicit readers’ feedback, analyze and understand readers’ behavior, and open new channels for conversation. These new capabilities promise to make abstract audiences present, quantified and real.
Drawing on the existing literature and an original case study, this study for the Tow Center asks whether the new tools of the digital age have indeed influenced the “audience in the mind’s eye.” Our evidence indicates that for the most part, they have not. In reviewing findings from the case study, we were struck by how little seems to have changed since the print era. Although they seemed more open to audience knowledge, the ways in which these reporters thought about their audiences was remarkably similar to those reported in classic ethnographies of the 1970s.
The Audience at Arm’s Length
While most newsroom decisions are made with a reader in mind, journalists usually resist consciously soliciting and incorporating audience preferences. They recognize obligations to reach an audience, but are wary of allowing readers to dictate newsworthiness. Still, an awareness of one’s potential readership is critical to effective writing; unread writing, after all, rarely changes the status quo. This audience thinking among journalists
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/tow_center/reporters-use-friends-not-analytics.php