Topic: The evolution of audiences in the last twenty years, and how this has impacted journalism

Lee, A., Lewis, S. and Powers, M. (2012). Audience Clicks and News Placement. Communication Research, 41(4), pp.505-530.

Lee, Lewis, and Powers aim to address the growing role audiences have played in the prioritisation of news stories, the functionality of journalism and the role news editors play in increasing audience engagement. An audiences’ ability to personalise their news experience has grown significantly, meaning, for a journalist and a news organisation to have their work seen and interacted with, they must directly interact with the ‘agenda of an audience’. By engaging with research on audience habits, and the revision of a theoretical model, which allows for greater engagement through the gatekeeping process, Lee, Lewis and Powers can directly address the increasing role audiences play in how journalists and news outlets prioritise and write the news.

This source heavily focuses on the role technology has played a role in advancing the way audiences interact with and influence the news. This relates to other sources explored as over the past 20 years, audience engagement with journalism has grown more dependent on technology, leading to a market for ease and personalisation. Due to this development, the field of journalism has had to work to ensure greater audience engagement in an industry where the role of the audience and how they interact with the news, dictates the order in which news is received and thus, engaged with. This source allows one to understand the change in audience behaviour due to technological advances in a way that makes the audience increasingly more influential than they have been over the past 20 years.

Loosen, W. and Schmidt, J. (2012). (Re-)Discovering the Audience. Information, Communication & Society, 15(6), pp.867-887.

Loosen and Schmidt investigate the change in the relationship between journalism and the audience as a result of technological development, and organisational and institutional changes, which have held consequences for the practice of journalism. By looking at the performance of journalism and the audience as well as the expectations held by both audiences and the field of journalism, Loosen and Schmidt have been able to break down the changes that have occurred within the relationship between audiences and journalism, and why there has been such an increase in changes to said relationship. Thus, throughout the past 20 years, the field of journalism has undergone a shift, concerning its engagement with technology, to how audiences perceive and therefore trust or distrust the industry, which has called for analysis on audiences nowadays to better perceive how this relationship will progress.

This source analyses the integral role journalism plays in the habits of audiences, and the role that audiences have played in the development of journalist to where the industry is today. This relates to other sources explore as through the development of technology and changes within the industry, the formerly trustful relationship audiences once had with journalism has grown more sceptical, placing necessary analysis on how technology and the changes the journalism industry has undergone have influenced how and why audiences engage with journalism. This allows one to understand the key differences between the relationship an audience had with journalism to the relationship an audience now holds with journalism, and the key changes in technology and the various ways news has been relayed.

Mhamdi, C. (2016). Transgressing Media Boundaries: News Creation and Dissemination in a Globalized World. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 7(5), pp.272-277.

Mhamdi investigates the increasingly active role audiences have played within journalism, specifically to the creation of citizen journalism, which places audiences in the role that was formerly reserved for those producing the news an audience would have received. By breaking down the role social media has played in blurring the line between the journalist and the audience member, Mhamdi examines the way audiences, and journalists alike, can receive, report and distribute news. By examining the role journalism played over previous years, especially when audiences solely received their news via newspaper prior to the rise of audiences engaging with the news via the internet, it becomes clear that the audience now plays a more interactive role in news creation and distribution compared to the role they formerly played before the rise of social media.

This source examines how, through the development of social media, the role of the audience has shifted from simply receiving the news, to now, playing a role in the development and distribution of journalism. This relates to other sources as, without technological advancements, the audience would remain a separate entity to the practice of journalism, simply receiving and engaging with the news given directly to them. Whereas nowadays, the audience has evolved to play a key role in the function and distribution of news, influencing the process of journalism on a multitude of levels, from how and where individuals receive their news, to the increased spreading of news to other audience members and news outlets as a way to assist in the development of the final story.

Poell, T. and Borra, E. (2011). Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr as platforms of alternative journalism: The social media account of the 2010 Toronto G20 protests. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, 13(6), pp.695-713.

Poell and Borra examine how audiences engaged with the usage of social media as a method of reporting the 2010 G20 protests. Since this was still relatively early on in the rise of social media, compared to how it is utilised today, this is a direct reflection of how, due to a lack of greater engagement by the audience, the utilisation of social media to present journalism only reached a niche group of audience members. By examining the role audiences play in whether or not they engaged with this form of alternative journalism, Poell and Borra have been able to break down the key relationship between audience familiarity with a platform and journalism style before its success as a journalistic tool and method of relaying the news.

This source relates to other sources explored as there has been a significant increase in technological dependency within journalism, however, due to the data explored within the source, it shows how nearly 10 years ago, prior to familiarity with the platforms journalists employ today to distribute news, audiences still heavily relied on more traditional types of media. As audiences were comfortable with receiving their news from these more traditional forms of media, it shows just how strategically social media and technological development had to be employed for audiences to engage with and trust the journalistic work they were being presented with. This allows one to understand the importance of familiarising an audience with a platform to guarantee greater engagement as news is distributed.

Tandoc, E. (2014). Why Web Analytics Click. Journalism Studies, 16(6), pp.782-799.

Tandoc investigates the importance of audience engagement within the functionality of journalism. By employing a survey of 206 participants, Tandoc is able to explain the role audience analytics play in the work of a journalist, and their perception of the field to increase or hold levels of audience engagement. Due to the ever-evolving nature of the field of journalism, by analysing the importance of the audience in the construction and distribution of modern-day journalism, it becomes clear that nowadays, it is vital to a journalist’s work to be able to utilise the data gathered on the online audience, as it serves as a form of feedback. Meaning that due to this access of information, journalists are now able to utilise the data given to prioritising what information is released, however, this can also create a divide between editorial autonomy and the direct influence the audience has over how information is gathered, written, and published.

This source draws a comparison between the stability of journalism prior to the current dependency on online audience analytics and data to the fragility of the journalism field now. This relates to other sources as there has been an increasing dependency on technological evolutions by journalists and news outlets to appeal to their target audience, a practice which is rather new in comparison to how news has distributed over the past 20 years. These sources show that throughout the past 20 years, the influence the audience has had over the journalism industry has drastically changed, providing the audience with more say over what they see rather than what the journalist may have prioritised previously. This allows one to understand that in an age where technology is so heavily relied upon for journalists to reach the majority, older techniques that once worked sufficiently will have to adapt to meet the demands and needs of the audience.