Journalism, Audiences, and News Experience

Authored by: Irene Costera Meijer

The Handbook of Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138052888
eBook ISBN: 9781315167497
Adobe ISBN:


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Audiences have become a force to reckon with in journalism. The digitalization of journalism moved the practice of news consumption—or its more active-sounding alternative, news use (Picone, 2017)—from the margins to the center of professional and scholarly attention. First of all, the business model of digital-born news media depends largely on audience engagement (Batsell, 2015). For news organizations aiming to optimize their readability and usability, user metrics offer crucial information as well (Webster, 2014). Second, it has become increasingly common for journalists to use these newly available data for measuring their own professional performance (Anderson, 2011; Tandoc, 2014). Third, audiences have become crucial in terms of revenues. In 2000, for instance, advertisers were the main source of income for Dutch newspapers, whereas by 2016 the revenue coming from subscribers had gone up to 78 percent (Stand van de Nieuwsmedia, 2017). Fourth, audiences have become ever more important for public news media to justify public funding (Cushion, 2012). Public service media also increasingly latch on to the idea that the value of their programs and services cannot be established by merely looking at their content. Just as important is how users experience their value (Lowe, 2010). Finally, the changes brought about by the digitalization of journalism have stimulated scholarly inquiry (Lewis & Westlund, 2015). Taken together, these new digital devices, platforms, sources, and their implications for news use have needed to be made sense of. As a result of these various, interrelated developments, audiences and users have grown more and more important as a point of reference in journalism.

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