Attracting readers

Elizabeth Spayd, the new Public Editor at The New York Times has written her first column. The previous public editor Margaret Sullivan departed recently for the Washington Post.

In her first column, Spayd grapples with the core issue of attracting readers and the changing nature of the audience:

What would prove more fruitful is for newsrooms to treat their audience like people with crucial information to convey — preferences, habits and shifting ways of consuming information. What do they like about what we do and how we do it? What do they want done differently? What do they turn to other sites for?

Had we been listening more carefully and sooner, we would have known that our readers were using their phones for news while we were focused on monitors. And spending hours on social platforms before we had staffed “audience teams” to attract them. Or beginning to block ads while we were deploying “pop-ups” that took over user screens.

It’s an interesting piece and the above quote sums up precisely where the blogging world was a decade ago. Indeed the core philosophy of blogging was the idea of being closer to your readers, learning from them, being corrected by them, and building loyalty and relationship with your audience.

It is good to see news organisations catching up with this type of philosophy, but why has it taken so long?