Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mary Nesbitt over at Northwestern's Readership Institute has a great column on the subject of making important news interesting. She mentions my book, which is nice, but she also talks at length about the research showing that news audiences want important civic news -- they just want it delivered in ways they see as relevant.

Mary points out that news decisionmakers need to start thinking more about the content they're delivering, and not just about the bottom line, if they want to keep their papers intact. These folks follow research like hound dogs, which unfortunately has led to a number of content problems as oversimplified research results have indicated that people don't flock to traditional institutionalized news. What the Readership Institute offers is research showing that while people don't want the same old stuff, they do want to know what's going on in the world and how they can be involved.

If we can get top newspaper people to recognize that their franchise is helping keep citizens informed and active, maybe we can redirect some resources toward meaningful news. And if it's done in the right way, that might turn out to be what audiences have wanted all along.