The readers you want or the readers you have?

Mizzou students Abby Ivory-Ganja and Marlee L. Baldridge are at the Online News Association Conference to cover tech and innovation sessions for RJI. Visit our ONA page to see all the coverage. 

Story by Abby Ivory-Ganja 

News organizations are constantly trying to reach new audiences, but engaging with a new audience can be daunting.

Here are some questions to guide engaging with the people you are trying to reach:

Who is your current audience? 

Who are you trying to reach? 

Keep in mind: is it reasonable to go after that audience? 

Does it connect with your mission? 

Is there affinity with your current audience? 

Is it specific enough? Millennials is not an audience. Be more specific. 

Can this be a sustainable audience? 

How would someone get to you? 

How will they reach you with a story aimed at you? 

Further down the road how can they persuade you to subscribe/sign up for more stories? 

Where do communities you’re trying to reach spend time? 

What questions do you have for members of the community you’re targeting? 


Examples of questions you can ask the new people you're connecting with: 

Have you ever heard of us? 

Do you pay for news? 

Do you read for personal or professional reasons? 

What platforms do you live on? 

What do you love? How do you spend your time? 

What time of day do you consume the news?

What’s your favorite piece of digital content? 

What do you care about? 

What do you worry about? 

What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

What do you need? 

It’s important to know your community and build from there.


A few more questions to ask community members:

Imagine the media is getting your story totally right. What does that look like? 

What keeps you up at night? 

Tell me about a time you had to make a tough decision (add related to issue you’re covering), where do you go for resources or more information? Why? 

Consider saying information or resources, not news, which can be a charged word with preconceptions. 


Main takeaways: 

Hire people from the communities you’re targeting. 

Acknowledge and recognize good work in your newsroom.

Keep reinforcing the mission and what you’re trying to achieve. 



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