What the Public Wants From News Media

What do the masses want when it comes to a news sites? Is it the hard news that takes time to collect or quick jots to keep everyone updated in one place? A small survey was done for DigitalJournal.com to discover those answers.
News is happening everyday all around us, but what is it that the public wants? Do we want to be informed or do we want to be entertained?

Does what we want depend on our age, career or social settings?

Setting out to find the answers I asked 100 men and women from around the globe what they wanted in a news source. My goal was to have at least 1/5 of the surveys returned.

The survey was taken by 25 participants. The age of participants was from 19 to 72 with being the median age of 44.

16 males and 9 females answered the survey.

One student responded, two of the participants were disabled, careers ran the gamut from IT techs, web developers, construction consultant,engineer, management in the software industry, editors, writers, journalist, mental health worker and a translator.

Of those offering their social-economic status three are dealing with money issues and the remainder of 12 are in the middle class.

The survey was sent out to people in Australia, Europe, Africa and North America. At least two from each area responded with the majority of responses from North America.

The survey consisted of five questions about news media and then the above information. I did not divide the survey answers into the statistics of which gender wanted what as the results showed that all genders were divided in areas of division and visa versa.

Participants were also asked if they had additional comments concerning the news media. A sampling of those comments are:

I simply believe in the old news values: Audience, Impact, Proximity, Prominence, Conflict, Human Interest. These don’t change, in my opinion. And the story should answer the Four Ws and an H. Some opinion can be included, as long as it is near the bottom and can be seen as such. -CS

In general, I look to the news for facts. Opinions are available everywhere, at any time. Facts are more rare and thus more precious. And you can use my name as long as it’s associated with factual content 🙂

I Like to know what’s going on in the world and if issues are being reported they should be tracked. I like to have an understanding of what is going on with local politics, arts and innovation and I always love a feel good human interest story to renew my faith in humanity.-TB

Now it’s time to examine the results of the survey.

What do you want in a news source?

Overwhelmingly those who took the survey read the news for facts. They expect their news source to be well balanced and the source to be known for accuracy. People wanted their news to be unbiased. While the article can be short readers want more than a few sentences to digest. They also want today’s news and they want it fast.

The need for hard news is also mixed with the need for human interest stories. Gossip is not something that news readers are a fan of.

Readers like a mix of writing styles also. They also expect the articles to be well written, lacking spelling errors, proof read and fact checked. Readers want to be able to trust the information that they are consuming.

Some of the comments from this question are:

I have varying news sources that I go to for varying reasons, I like quick concise reports and the in-depth reporting that some provide.

Good writing is essential. Prompt news-breaking articles are important too, and I am a big fan of science and research articles, particularly space exploration, of which there are not nearly enough in my opinion

A wide range of subjects, well written, fact based, across ethnic and racial lines done with thought and good documentation.

varied, unique, research based,attributable stories that tell me local and international events in more than one 2 sentence paragraph…

A few things. It should be objective & un-biased. It should be comprehensive and broad enough to include news beyond the tiny focus of the typical western media. It should be NEWS – i.e., however much a fan I am of Obama and his adorable family, their pet dog is NOT news to me. Nor is Britney’s latest disaster.

A balanced offering of daily news from around the world. I want to hear both sides of a story (especially in politics) and have every question answered. The “who, what, where, when, why and how” questions are very important.

Adding context, applicable photos/media and building a community is always appealing.

Most of all, credibility.

Do you like opinion based articles?

Survey takers were divided on opinion based articles with 12 in favor, 8 against and one person saying that sometimes they enjoyed them.

One theme that came across clearly was that people do not tolerate news articles are in reality opinion based ones. They also are very much against articles that have an ‘anti’ message.People have very strong opinions on this issue as a selection of the comments show:

Not unless the opinion is the icing on the cake – the bulk should be facts.

If the opinion has intelligence behind it.

I detest out-and-out “anti-something” opinion, aka “I detest Jews/Arabs” when they are written with overtones of violent thought.-MC

With documentation not just shoot from the hip, unless it is done first person with the person someone who has some authority by education or experience relevant to the opinion, for example like a scientist who gives an opinion on the swine flu and whether it will spread and the political implications or a counselor who gives opinions on why people cry a lot and whether or not that is associated with just today’s stress or not, whatever. Again not shoot from the hip unless supported with facts of some sort. -CF

Yes, very much so. Especially if the “news” is as I described above. I enjoy a well-informed, well written article that posits a point of view, especially if it’s different from my own. How else to learn if your own assumptions and views aren’t challenged occasionally?-JO

Do you want long involved reports?

This question was evenly divided with survey respondents. Eleven want long articles, six want shorter articles and six said that it depended on the subject matter.

Reports should be as long as needed to cover the subject. If they are long and involved, that’s fine. It depends again on the subject.
through and to the point.

When issues are ongoing they should be covered for the duration, not just sporadically as other stories deteriorate.

Absolutely…although it doesn’t always have to be long. I like the idea of “executive summary” type stories, followed-up with more in-depth reporting, so I can choose to read/learn further on particular stories that interest me.

Do you want just the facts?

Of the 21 who answered this question most (15) do want just the facts in an article. The other six wanted a mix of facts and background about the story issues.

It is important to have a balance of facts with flavor.

I think background to the facts would also be needed.

I don’t mind some speculative angles if the reporter has proven he has done his background, or that reporter has proven some expertise. but if they are expressing “facts” that favour an interest they have, I want disclosure…

All news should be based on fact, even the opinion pieces.

If the article has pictures does that bring in more interest?

The overwhelming majority want pictures to illustrate a story with 21 positive responses. People also wanted those pictures to be relevant. While it can take time to find the proper pictures to work for an article it makes sense to seek them out or provide your own photos when writing an article.

Pictures definitely intrigue the viewer. It will stimulate more parts of the brain and that’s what news is all about: stimulation and entertainment-MC

I want to thank those who took time to answer the questions. Hopefully the answers you gave will be reflected in future articles not only at digital journal but from other journalists who read this article. It is my hope that the answers can provide journalists some insight into their audience’s needs.

Advertisements

You must be logged in to post a comment.

%d bloggers like this: