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Friday, February 27, 2004

Reader feedback versus editorial judgment

Just received from Felipe T. Edwards, deputy editor of El Mercurio, the Chilean quality newspaper... A sharp thinking on "finding the balance between the reader feedback and the pure editorial judgment". Don't hesitate to send us comments.

Felipe T. Edwards posting:

"Should editors listen to readers and give them what they want. Or should we exercise what many view as our professional obligation and print what we think they should read. The answer, surely, must lie somewhere between these extremes, but it seems that most of us lean too heavily towards one or the other end of that spectrum.

I suspect that most of us follow the age old practice of running what seems ?newsworthy?, what years of experience as reporters and editors tell us will affect our readers lives or pique their interest. Whether we run front pages of penetrating political analysis for a quality broadsheet or salacious revelations of a local television starlet for a mass market tabloid, our choice will be dictated by a combination of tradition and instinct.
For this group reader surveys or other market investigation tools are generally treated as background noise, toys used by administrative types to which are paid little more than lip service, lest we anger the publisher and seem uncooperative with the business side of our business.

There exists another group, smaller (dare I say younger?) who take market studies and reshape the entire content of their papers to respond to its results. Some can take extensive measurements, like the marvelously detailed Reader Behavior Scores undertaken by the Readership Institute of Northwestern University, and use them as a guide for allotting space between sections. Others have used hits on their web pages as an indicator of reader interest, and to great effect. Las Ultimas Noticias, a national circulation tabloid in Chile is in its second year of 30% circulation growth which it attributes in no small degree to a careful study of readership trends in its web page.

My point is that we need both, research and intuition, but tend to rely too heavily on one or the other. I urge the traditionalists to take a second, more serious look at those market studies: you might well find new sales in those dry pages. And survey addicts could very possibly benefit from occasionally flouting their numbers and attempting some creative destruction of their own models. The results for both could be surprising."

Felipe T. Edwards e-mail: [email protected]

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on February 27, 2004 at 06:56 PM in d. Design and infographics , h. Young readers / New readers, i. Future of print | Permalink

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Comments

Easy to read?! I think today's newsletter is easy to read. Next step is move from paper newsletter to internet. This step now exist. But what is next? Dead the papers newsletters?

Posted by: Dir at Jun 1, 2005 1:09:58 AM