Nicole Bush

Media and Audience Shift


The Fast Company, New York Times and two NiemanLab articles for our readings this week all had one thing in common: they all discussed how BuzzFeed, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, and New York Magazine are approaching their audience as they readjust in the digital climate.


According to Fast Company, BuzzFeed is a “digital media powerhouse” that is globally distributed and reaches 79 million people monthly. Their approach took them from a company that “effectively did not exist two years ago” to a massive media envy. Buzzfeed did this by tailoring content specifically for the networks and the audience it’s reaching via those networks. They did that instead of following the older media model of publishing the same definitive piece on every one of their networks. This means Snapchat gets Snapchat-specific media content, Facebook gets Facebook specific, Youtube gets Youtube specific and so on.

BuzzFeed uses data collected across its networks to give the company a better understanding of the content their audience likes. Then it employs its creative content prowess with its approximately 1,200 employees and its own motion picture company to blow by other digital media companies.

Christian Science Monitor

The Monitor is addressing the shift of media from print to digital in a thorough and meaningful way. Last November they rolled out a new idea that invited readers to “read a series of stories designed to get them out of their news comfort zones.” In a media climate that has become more “clickbait-y” Monitor editor Marshall Ingwerson said they wanted to shift their strategy in a direction where they could be more like themselves and “less like everybody else.” They want to do this by reporting quality from both sides during “these turbulent and divisive times” on today’s important issues. The Monitor aims to report in a way that is “calm and fact-based and fundamentally constructive, and assumes that our readers are looking to have a fundamentally constructive approach to the news,” said Ingwerson.

While the Monitor and its journalists have long considered this an important aspect of reporting, they are now including their audience in the conversation–hoping this new user experience creates a unique opportunity to draw in an audience willing to subscribe to quality.

New York Times

The New York Times approach to the shift in media is to look more closely at their internal operations and to broaden their coverage reach. The Times doesn’t have the typical newsroom of today’s digital environment because they are coming from such a strong print background. The Times’ newsroom is something that differentiated them, but, “if you do need to become more efficient, then some reduction there does make sense,” said Joshua Benton, the director of the Nieman Journalism Lab.

In addition to thinning their newsroom, according the article, the Times is going through a “series of broader changes” that includes “a reimagining of the print newspaper; an aggressive international expansion; a heightened emphasis on graphics, podcasts, video and virtual reality; the $30-million purchase of the product recommendation site The Wirecutter and its sibling, The Sweethome; and changes in top newsroom management.”

Effectively the New York Times is figuring out how to serve its audience better and more efficiently than it has before. And hoping this shift will generate more subscriptions.

New York Magazine

New York Magazine is tightening in on their audience and doing so–according Pamela Wasserstein, New York’s CEO–by “trying to think about how we can provide unique value in creative ways.”

One of New York’s approaches is to serve their “New York City-based audience that turns to New York for discovery of what’s new, what’s next, what’s cool, what’s insider-y in the experience of living here.” She said, “It’s oriented toward unique experiences — either ones that we are creating ourselves or, often, ones that we’re curating and arranging for special access for members.” In other words, New York Magazine wants its readers to feel a sense of community in the content.

Another way New York is “providing unique value” is through more podcasts that Wasserstein said are “potentially in the works.” This would present another unique value because the podcasts would be, “in part guided by the interests of our writers and editors, which is a great way to do it because if someone’s passionate about creating something, it’s more likely that the product is going to be wonderful and connect with audiences well.”

But unlike BuzzFeed, New York Magazine isn’t looking to be a “fully socially distributed kind of company.” They want to keep their homepage a destination with content that keeps their audience coming back direct.


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