Thursday, April 8, 2010

Engagement & Relevance in Journalism

First and foremost, I think Group #12 presented their information on engagement and relevance in an engaging and relatable manner. Good work guys!
So what is engagement regarding journalism? I feel that our number one priority is informing citizens. We have a commitment to the citizens. But not only must we inform them, we must do it in an engaging and interesting manner. How often do we watch a news story and then wonder what it was about? We must first get their attention. And in order to do that, we must know our audience. We must know the demographic that we reach. We must know the sex, age, race, etc. of our viewers. Then, we have a better chance of compiling stories that they would watch. Advertisers also benefit from knowing their demographics. I attended a lecture by Joe Ebinger, a media consultant, this week and he mentioned that network nightly news programs are still reaching the most people. He encouraged us to be aware of the commercials during these programs. We would find lots of ads for hearing aids and various medicines. We work for the viewer. We must deliver them to the last line. Audience research is not to be left to the marketers or sponsors but to journalists. Bottom line: journalists engage readers by learning who they are. I loved the comparision Group #12 made with getting engaged to someone and how to engage an audience. Clever. Clearly, you first have to socialize, and then find someone you are interested in, get to know them, communicate, date and spend time together, and finally pop the question. Similarly, journalists must get to know their audience by interacting, communicating, and learning about them.
Now for relevance. If you make your stories/show relevant then people will continue to watch. They will feel connected. They will feel invested. So, how do we, as journalists, do that? How do we make our audience interested? We must be great storytellers. We must find people who are tied to the story and tell the story through their eyes. We must conduct stories on issues and trends that are happening currently. Tell the story in a unique manner and people will continue to watch. My good friend and colleague, Garrett Tenney, is a master storyteller. He is going places. His piece last summer entitled "Camp Cartwheel" is worth watching. He gets hooks people right away, keeps their interest, and leaves them wanting more. In the end, that's what it's all about.
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