“How to attract more readers” is a permanent question for media workers. Depending on the big data technique, more media analysis clicks rate and page views to know what audiences are interested in. In order to gain more subscribers, the media tend to write more stories about this field. Then, another question comes up: should the journalist always follow audiences’ interests, that is, should the media to publish what the journalists think it is important to be informed, or what the audiences pay more attention to.
In the book Beyond the News, the author Mitchell Stephens said the wisdom journalism should “educate” audiences and lead to wiser citizens, therefore, wiser polities. From this perspective, the position of journalists is over audiences’. However, Mr. LaForge, who is both steeped in Times practices and digitally savvy, said that The Times could no longer just decide, high on its mountaintop, what was news. He thought the reader controlled the news agenda much more than 30 years ago. In this case, it seems like the position of audiences is over journalists’.
The dilemma between “the pursuit of clicks” and “creative minds and depth investigate news” is the core concern for most media workers and decision makers. One it is related to the survival, the other is about credibility.
The BuzzFeed, which people consider using data to achieve its success, have a different view.
Dao Nguyen, BuzzFeed’s publisher, talked about it in an interview, said that even though having technology, data science, and being able to know how to manage, optimize and coordinate your publishing would give a competitive advantage, it was a myth that data scientists were telling reporters what to write and what to cover and anyone who just optimized to one metric was going to eventually have a problem. Therefore, the ideal condition is to have a considerable amount of audiences actually read your well-written stories, where the positions of journalists and audiences are equal.
Since the social media becomes the main platform for people to reach news, friends’ shares and comments improve the possibility of news distributing and its influence. The engagement of audiences is becoming vital. BuzzFeed does use Facebook insights to get the raw data, which they call the APIs. And the New York Times also value its readers’ engagement, which could help they to be the early part of what people were talking about and what they cared about.
The engagement makes audiences form a habit. After all, there are so many distractive things among the people to let them go away from the coverages, but the habit is stable. If a reader has the habit to check the cover articles from the New York Times, he would read those articles every day. As a result, he is more likely to share those stories with his friends on social media, then those stories come to more readers. This kind of reader is what news media, publishers prefer and pursuit, they are high-quality and beneficial.
Certainly, the media could gain both of them once the stories are good enough, nevertheless, it is also a truth that this situation happens rarely. Therefore, the dilemma would still exist for a long time, maybe even forever.