In the conclusion to the report published on CJR today, “The Story So Far: What We Know About the Business of Digital Journalism,” co-authors Bill Grueskin, Ava Seave, and Lucas Graves offer a number of recommendations to news organizations grappling with the economics of producing news in the digital age. One of their first suggestions is that outlets need to engage their readers at a deeper level than some have been doing; to offer them content that creates loyalty rather than passing interest—and fleeting clicks—so that news audiences are seen as more valuable to advertisers. The authors put it this way:
Media companies should redefine the relationship between audience and advertising. They have spent a great deal of time and resources building masses of lightly engaged readers. And the industry has turned online ads into what Rothenberg calls low-value “direct-response advertising—a.k.a., junk mail.” That kind of advertising is dependent on volume—a game publishers will never win when competing with behemoths like Facebook and Google. This is not a goal that can be accomplished just by the business side. Journalists must make a fuller commitment to understanding the audiences they have and the ones they want, and to revamping their digital offerings to ensure deeper loyalty.
We’re curious to know who you think is already doing this well, and who isn’t.
Which news sites make you feel engaged and part of a community of readers? Which sites consistently offer you a quality, high-value experience? And which news sites could be doing a much better job understanding the audiences they have and the ones they want?The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.