The construction of the (imagined) audience by newsroom workers

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


The struggle to gain and at best retain the attention of the audience is ever more prevalent in today’s news media landscape. News media have undergone a reconfiguration putting the audience front and center (1). The economic necessity to win over the audience is of course straightforward. The digitization and the introduction of audience metrics in the newsroom however have led to a focus on more than just selling subscriptions, also on engagement, interaction, clickthrough rates, time spent, and several other quantifiable data (2). The audience has become datafied . It is still unsure if these metrics lead to a better understanding of the audience’s needs and desires, even so if they are embedded in daily work and decision-making processes in newsrooms (3). This raises several questions: how do newsroom workers construct a detailed picture of the audience, how do experiences with the audience shape this image, and how does it influence their work (4).
We will utilize a qualitative methodology to answer these questions. Through expert
interviews with various workers in news media, we try to find out which image they have of their audience and how they arrive at this image. We interview journalists, but also people working in the innovation department, the digital strategy department, and the audience metrics department at the Flemish commercial news media company Roularta Media Group. In this way, we also gain insights into how roles within a commercial media company potentially colour the image of the audience and how this manifests itself concretely in collaborations between departments and in bringing their product or content to the audience.
Period8 Dec 2022
Event titleA True and Fair View: Communicative, Linguistic and Ethical aspects of Expressing Point of View in Journalism: Brussels Institute of Journalism Studies biennial international conference
Event typeConference
LocationBrussels, Belgium
Degree of RecognitionInternational