Numbers from recent research done by the Pew Research Center show that Reddit is gaining steam as a new way people take in their news. While the study shows that only 9% of Americans use the site, 8 out of 10 those who do reported that they get their news from the platform. With Reddit’s success coming from using discussion based posting, perhaps it would be wise for news outlets to design sites that are more discussion friendly to draw in more readers.
As part of this proposal, I would suggest that news sites posted articles in a website that has more of a forum feel to it. This way the readers will be more engaged in the topic, as they discuss, argue and share articles to create more buzz. It will also be a great way to get feedback, and perhaps gauge readers to find out what stories they would like to see written.
Pew also reported that with twitter, only 25% of users actually tweet about news stories as they are happening. More surprisingly, only 13% of users reply to the particular tweet. With more of a forum based layout, discussion of topics will be highly encouraged. When people have the opportunity to voice their opinion, topics tend to gain more traction and clicks.
Another thing that is encouraging about the format Reddit uses is that users seem to care about the news that the media is having a hard time selling. On a site that has popular pages for cats and funny pictures, politics still managed to be one of the 10 most active subreddits according to Pew. Within the r/politics subreddit, there were several discussion topics that were able to take off, as some of the posts gained thousands of comments.
When people would look at one of these hypothetical forum based news sites in the future, they will see the top discussed stories, showing them how many people are talking about a specific topic. That will encourage readers to jump in because they see how many people are talking about the topic. I feel like there is a possibility this could create a domino effect for page views.
This system would also create an even more interactive channel for the journalists top reach their target audience, as they are able to reach out and discuss the topics they are covering. The Pew report noted that Reddit has a success “ask me anything” subreddit that has appealed to users for creating discussions with people.
The audience for Reddit is also described as young, male and liberal, so it is likely that a news site that has more of a forum layout would draw that kind of audience. Research done by Business Insider shows that young males aged 25-34 are the second most sought after demographic for advertising, so the new layout may help struggling news outlets generate more money.
With social media gaining more and more popularity, perhaps it would be best for websites to cut out the middle man, and make their sites more of a social media outlet of their own. News sites have gone through a relatively small amount of innovation, and it could not hurt to at least try to experiment with making news outlets more interactive to create a buzz of their own.