Beyond ratings, shares, clicks and time spent: six or seven reasons why we should study the experience of news

Audiences and users have always been targeted by marketers, but only recently have they become important for journalists, journalism and journalism studies.

Although independence is still considered a core value, journalists increasingly tend to use metrics such as clicks, comments, time spent etc. as a measurement of their professional performance. Likewise, news organisations tend to become more responsive to audiences because they depend more and more on subscriptions, membership and user metrics for their legitimation and survival.

Scholars and journalists warn that audience metrics may lead to ‘the dumbing down of news’, to tunnel vision, filter bubbles, audience fragmentation and subsequent polarization and will eventually undermine the vitality and inclusive character of our democracy.

In this lecture, Irene Costera Meijer aims to improve our understanding of news audiences. She will show how journalism scholars and professionals can become more sensitive towards the interests of users without taking for granted that these are reflected by digital metrics, opinion polls or surveys.

By discussing six or seven reasons why we should pay more attention to people’s experience of journalism she will illustrate how news experience is impacted not merely by content (as is often automatically assumed) but also by platforms, media, reading habits, moods, time and place.

Irene Costera Meijer is a Professor of Journalism Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She is the leading investigator of the research project (2013-2019) ‘The New News Consumer: User-Based Innovation to Meet Paradigmatic Change in News Use and Media Habits’.

Her projects share a user/audience-centred approach regarding journalism, with a particular focus on the experience of excellence which she coined ‘Valuable Journalism’.