“Who is my audience? How can I keep them engaged? What do they want to see?”
These questions pervaded throughout my mind today as we were confronted by day three of the RIT PJ Washington D.C. trip. Our first stop: USA Today.
We were greeted by Andy Scott, deputy managing editor, Jack Gruber, a photojournalist and Chris Powers, an assignment editor. “We’re a business,” stated Andy at the beginning of the roundtable. Journalists and news organizations are in a constant competitive battle for attention. They are interested in growing their audience, improving newsroom workflow, and increasing the engagement that lies between them and the LCD screen. Chris described this as, “Being a tastemaker and feeding the beast.” USA Today’s front page stories range from breaking news to feature stories. Some even include images of cute baby animals because “the people want it.” Lastly, all three men emphasized video being the golden goose of our ever-changing, fast paced industry. “Embrace the chance of technology, be flexible – don’t pigeonhole yourself.”
Next up: Vox
According to Kainaz Amaria, there are three things to keep in mind when thinking about what an audience is:
- Who is your audience?
- What do they need?
- What will you make in return?
Kainaz spoke to us in the afternoon and stated that, “Audience engagement is creating a space where people can feel safe to go to, where communities can come together and talk about topics.” But how does one keep their visual voice alongside engaging your audience and keeping them entertained? And, more importantly, how do you keep your own personal visual voice/vision when engaging for an audience that has a specific audience that they hope to gage towards? The analytics tools available in newsrooms report the basics: how many people read a given story, where they came from, and how long they stick around before “bouncing” away. But that data reveals very little about who those readers are, and nothing at all about who they could be. Lastly in regards to audience and storytelling, Kainaz spoke on how it is important to receive user feedback from your audience on the stories that we produce.
I really liked this one saying Kainaz said: “You’re always going to have a rabbit that you’re chasing, every 7 years or so.” I’d say I can be superstitious at times, so I’m looking forward to meeting that rabbit one day.
Last stop on today’s trip was a visit to AARP:
Their audience viewer/readership are 50+ year old men and women across the country. Their advertisements also follow this niche readership. “There are stories you have to do in regards to the model/motto we are following here at AARP,” said Michael Wichita. This niche environment is interesting to me, but also seems difficult to maintain when new innovative platforms are starting to emerge and storytellers are jumping on this bandwagon. I was curious if AARP was to switch up some of their platforms and stories for one’s that possibly their competitors are doing, and began using interactivity in their work, would their readership decline?
After today’s activities, I am still a bit unsure as to who I am reaching currently with the stories that I am telling while in school. How do I find an audience? How do keep them engaged in my work? How do I know my work has impact? Who am I missing? How do I connect with them?
How can the experiences, observations and imagination I have within my stories be blended and understood by another person’s experience, observations and imagination?
I guess we will wait and see.
Looking forward to what tomorrow may bring!