This week Joanna Geary, Community and Web Development Editor at the Times spoke on the importance of engaging with the reader.
In some respects her views were similar to those of Rory Cellan-Jones, the reader is not always interested in the most news worthy story. Online journalism is often measured in how many views or hits a story gets – the assumption being the more hits, the better the story. But Geary reminded that if we continually wrote to get reader hits all our stories would be about poker, porn and kittens.
These searches are only representative of the gossipy, human-interest strand of the human psyche said Geary, that, although important to recognise, is not representative of the reader as a whole.
Geary also noted that this strand of of the psyche is not something readers will usually want to reveal and may even be ashamed admit. Therefore if you ask a reader what they would like more of on a news website they may say more hard-hitting political writing, when they would actually rather read about Will and Kate’s upcoming wedding.
The solution that Geary presented, and what they are aiming to do at the The Times is to strike a balance between what the reader says they want, what they actually look at and what the brand stands for. But how do we do that? Perhaps as Geary suggests:
“We need people experimenting right now”