How can Old Media journalists claim to be “professionals” while being almost completely wrong about what their readers want? Study reveals an astonishing disconnect. 9/12/07Posted by Steve Boriss in Uncategorized.
The highly-regarded Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) just completed a study comparing stories covered online by mainstream news outlets to those that readers are most interested in (measured by most viewed/recommended/emailed or appearing on user-driven sites like Digg, Del.icio.us, and Reddit). The study found that there was little correspondence between the two, with many user-preferred stories not appearing anywhere among the top mainstream stories. In other words, mainstream outlets are not giving news consumers what they want, which would seem to indicate a business problem.
With almost childlike innocence, PEJ suggests, “The question of whether citizens define the news differently than professionals is becoming increasingly relevant” — a sentence that speaks volumes about why Old Media is failing. First, note that readers are not viewed as “customers” to be pleased, but as “citizens” who play some kind of vague role in which journalists provide an indispensable public service for which citizens are expected to be grateful. Second, note the self-serving and somewhat fraudulent application of the term “professional” to a discipline that meets none of the hallmarks of a profession, which include agreed-to codes of ethics and best practices, licensing procedures, governing bodies, and requirements for continuing education. Third, it is remarkable that anyone engaged in a business would consider satisfying the customer something that is only “increasingly” relevant rather than the entire point of an enterprise from the very beginning.
Old Media journalists who want to survive would be best advised to drop the Journalism dogma and all its silly pretensions. If a professional self-image is important to them, it ought to be in terms of being of service, particularly satisfying their customers and helping their employers deliver a profit. (Hat tip: Thoughts of Nigel)