BE­LONG­ING NEED:

Contributing mem­ber of a com­mu­nity

The Insider - - AUDIENCE -

There’s an in­ter­est­ing trend hap­pen­ing in me­dia these days. More and more pub­lish­ers, es­pe­cially in the mag­a­zine sec­tor, are rec­og­niz­ing the power of an en­gaged com­mu­nity, and are di­ver­si­fy­ing their busi­nesses to in­clude events, exclusive of­fers, blog­ging net­works, trav­els clubs and more.

That’s all great. But if so­cial me­dia has taught us any­thing, it’s that peo­ple also want to con­nect with each other on­line around news and com­mon in­ter­ests.

Sadly in­stead of cap­i­tal­iz­ing on this mas­sive op­por­tu­nity to grow en­gage­ment with read­ers who want to con­nect with jour­nal­ists, ed­i­tors and other read­ers, more and more my­opic me­dia ex­ecs are dis­en­gag­ing from read­ers, forc­ing them to take their com­ments (and the ad dol­lars they gen­er­ate) else­where.

Roy Greenslade, a pro­fes­sor of jour­nal­ism at City Univer­sity in Lon­don and writer for The Guardian ques­tions this dis­turb­ing trend, “If the de­bates stim­u­lated by news­pa­pers are taken off-site, then the pa­per’s on­line num­bers fall and, by ex­ten­sion, its ad­ver­tis­ing or spon­sor­ship po­ten­tial falls too.”

Mathew In­gram a re­spected writer on the evo­lu­tion of me­dia and the so­cial web has be­come a voice for the so­cial masses say­ing that push­ing users away to so­cial me­dia to com­ment is like throw­ing a “po­ten­tially very valu­able baby out with the bath­wa­ter”. He also has an even more in­ter­est­ing the­ory, other than the typ­i­cal trolling ex­cuse, on why pub­lish­ers are muz­zling their read­ers…

“For me at least, too much of the com­plain­ing about com­ment sec­tions and the de­ci­sion to do away with them seems to be driven not by the bad be­hav­iour in them, but by a lack of in­ter­est on the part of some jour­nal­ists and me­dia out­lets in en­gag­ing with read­ers at all — and the hope that if there are no com­ments, maybe there won’t be any way to see the mis­takes or call them to ac­count.”

Pub­lish­ers, wake up! It’s not a one-way con­ver­sa­tion any­more. Your web­sites and apps need to be­come open, per­son­al­ized play­ing fields where MY opin­ions mat­ter.

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