Why opin­ions mat­ter

The Insider - - CON­TENT -

It seems like ev­ery month, more and more pub­lish­ers are slam­ming the di­a­logue doors on their dig­i­tal prop­er­ties, blam­ing trolls, spam and the costs of com­ment mod­er­a­tion as rea­sons for the lock­out. Se­cond only to the dig­i­tal ad debris they in­flict upon their read­ers, I con­sider this to be the big­gest mis­take me­dia ex­ec­u­tives have made in their at­tempts to tran­si­tion to dig­i­tal and en­gage with to­day’s con­stantly-con­nected news con­sumer.

There was an en­gag­ing dis­cus­sion on this very topic at the re­cent INMA Mo­bile Strate­gies Con­fer­ence, where I was ques­tioned on my as­ser­tion of the fore­go­ing. When the mod­er­a­tor asked the au­di­ence about the love of the in­dus­try for the user com­ments, the first re­sponse was short and blunt “We hate com­ments.”

Too many peo­ple in the pub­lish­ing in­dus­try still hold on to the my­opic myth that news should be a mono­logue. In fact, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study, 86% of news re­porters in the US be­lieve that cit­i­zens should not be al­lowed to con­trib­ute to the news.

And yet, re­search has shown that UserGen­er­ated Con­tent (UGC) is trusted 50% more by mil­len­ni­als than in­for­ma­tion from other me­dia sources, in­clud­ing news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. Clearly there is a huge dis­con­nect be­tween some pub­lish­ers and the pub­lic they serve.

News needs to be au­di­ence­cen­tric, which means, among other things, en­sur­ing that your con­tent is in­ter­ac­tive, that con­sumers can play with it, can con­trib­ute to it, can share it, ob­vi­ously. It’s not a mono­logue; it’s a di­a­logue to en­sure that the ex­pe­ri­ence al­lows for read­ers to in­ter­act with other au­di­ence mem­bers.”

John Stack­house former editor-in- chief of The Globe and Mail

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