When Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only newspaper The Daily shut down, Cameron Yuill from ReadWrite described reasons why and how it may have survived. The post pointed out one thing that many a content creator has struggled with:
“Offline, because distribution is usually limited to one city, content is tailored to local tastes. Online this would have been impossible as there are simply too many markets to cater for and the cost of providing such content would have been stratospheric.”
Starting off in this world of uncertain digital content, finding “users,” “followers,” and especially “subscribers” is difficult. J-school courses teach students about finding a niche audience and topic. Though when blogging about snowboarding, finance, journalism, or food the audience is clear. Setting up a news publication about journalism with a capital J its a bit harder— what is your target subscribers when you don’t have a geographic location to start with?
Whenever the “audience” question came up on the weekly quizzes I frustratingly thought to myself “I don’t know, anyone interested in the news!” But the truth is now that news is everywhere, when producing a variety of topics for a publication online, you need to actually have an answer.
Is the Global Market impossible to wrangle? The broadest and arguably most important category of news covering foreign, domestic, social, public policy, issues— too large?. It is one that any naive journalist will tell you is his “passion”: to speak to a global audience to change the world and stuff.
One way to overcome the global market target is to report on global topics through enterprise stories. AKA Find a niche market that would care about what a global topic means to them. Here are some “current event” global news journalism projects that try to overcome the market issues with some niche attributes:
The Millennial Category:
T.N.G.G. was a news magazine that covered trends, lifestyle, events, and technology news that directly effect people 18-24 (or Millennials). The sometimes sarcastic and captivating “current events” stories often touched upon what global young people were doing (like starting revolutions) and what domestic young people cared about (like gay rights, rape culture, and sex). Yet the publication closed its Global Market doors in 2012 leaving only its regional “Boston” blog. A much easier target audience to market content towards.
Not necessarily a millennial age market but the Guardian’s bright colors and multimedia-focus has caught the eye of many a young jaded who probably hates CNN and loves NPR. The “open journalism” and “Digital first” news website attracted 11.8 million unique U.S. visitors in October. Its huge attraction, tons of free high-quality content made up of up copy, video, pictures, live blogs, twitter feeds.
The Gender Category
The Skimm is a daily news letter created by two women who take the latest news and combine it all into a readable and absorbable summary—or skim! It’s target audience is women on the go and often connects the news to whimsical things that these women could relate to.
The Special Topics Category:
Jezebel is a content-rich news and commentary sight with a young progressive feminist leaning audience. It covers news and developments from all over the world but angles it in a sardonic (and often hilarious) tone. Its attraction is that it is not all depressing news from the underside of gender inequality, bride stashing, and slut shaming, but also celebrity and sex gossip. Does it weaken or cheapen the serious global news? I don’t know. Can it be read by a market of geographically neutral women? Possibly.
The Political Partisan Category:
Love it or hate it, Politico has taken the political digital news room by storm this year. It has succeeded in finding followers through the elections vacuum of multimedia 24/7 punditry coverage. From the Sunday Morning Pre-show, polling, and Blogs-Arena-Opinion (a.k.a punditry trio), the site has mastered a potential global market political interests by making it not a global market. You know, like how television news has a global market but really channel 4 and channel 12 have a proverbial isle between them?
For a site with a marijuana-image invoking name, Blaze T.V.’s conservative gigolo has set up a “digital first” global market newsroom. Similar to Politico, the flashy and impressive news gathering and content displays have drawn a large audience of potentially anyone interested in news but actually anyone interested in news via Glenn Beck.
All in all these news media sites have one thing in common: potentially anyonecould read them. Their content regards the entire population. It involves society, policy, national elections, and world-wide technology. Still, they have taken a cue from the death of publications like The Daily to learn something. It isn’t marketable news unless it has a smaller potential subscriber list. While we may all have the NBC News app on our smart phones and tablets, the media giants have established their brand when the market was much smaller. Now, weather I read the Skimm, TNGG, The Blaze, or some other content app or daily newsletter depends on who I am and in what I believe.
This means that if anyone wants to start a news media, they may have to start from somewhere they don’t necessarily want to. Since there is no pedestal from which journalists can say READ THIS LEARN ABOUT HUMANITY, a news media must start from an easily-promoted place or audience. It only leads me to wonder what this means for the future of fair journalism? Can we save it with marketing tools or may that deplete the quality of projects?
** P.S. I know wrassle is not a word so just bare with the jargon that tries a bit too hard to be funny.