Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tell me that you care

I'm still digesting the findings of the latest Pew study of internet users' attitudes about the press (there's a lot there) but one item in particular jumped out at me: more and more people think the press doesn't care about them.

We know – from a lifetime of experience, and surveys like the landmark Readership Institute findings – that believing their newspaper "looks out for people like me" is a key driver of readership and loyalty. What's more, we know that we actually do that in many, many cases.

Many of the entries in our recent President's Awards competition demonstrated that. Take two of the winners: busting a fraudulent used car resale operation in Tri-Cities and shoddy, unsafe home construction in Hilton Head. For a giant example, uncovered over several years, look at the Beazer homes coverage in Charlotte. (There are links to these and more great stories in this earlier post about winners).

We need to look for every way we can find to let people know we do care – that we do these investigations to look out for them, to make our communities better places to live, to hold elected officials accountable.

We do journalism for people, not to them. And we need to tell them that, too.

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