Consumers of news are much more open than we think they are to the idea of a “view from somewhere” in the news. I’d long suspected this was true, but it wasn’t until 2004 that I had the chance to test the concept.
In that year, I had the great fortune of participating in a research project for Fisher Communications in Seattle. Working with Susan Korbel of Core Research, we studied, through mall interviews and telephone surveys, consumer opinions in Portland and Seattle about local TV and the Web. Here’s one of the key findings:
The level of support for this actually surprised me, and it’s extremely relevant in today’s discussion of news with a point-of-you. Note, too, that the study was with 18–49-year olds, the news consumers of the future. And I think even those who disagreed here would find the concept acceptable, for remember, we’re the ones who have told the public that objectivity is the mission of journalism. This assumption isn’t universal.
We also discussed the idea of citizen reporters with the people in those two markets, and that, too, produced impressive results. 27% of the 18–49-year old respondents said they were interested in the idea, with another 47% said they’d be interested, but wanted to see it first.
I’m convinced that we underestimate the public’s interest in new things in the world of journalism, and theirs is a voice to which we should be paying close attention.
(thanks to Susan and Fisher for letting me publish this slide here)