December 15, 2022
A case study published today by INN shows how critical it is to include methodical audience research in any plans for newsroom expansion.
INN talked to dozens of newsrooms and closely examined three INN members that best represented the core audience research that any newsroom should consider before jumping into a major expansion.
Each newsroom asked focused questions and then went about answering them when evaluating a proposal: How does what we’re considering change our relationship with our existing audience? What opportunities does it open to build relationships with new audiences and how do those new people differ from those we currently serve well?
For newsrooms like Block Club Chicago, these can be really difficult questions. The neighborhood-focused newsroom questioned whether adding specialized reporters, like an investigations team, would be seen as too far from its core mission and would need audience support to be successful.
“It gets more complicated as you grow because you add five new reporters, it’s not just five new reporters, you’re going to need an extra editor,” said Publisher Shamus Toomey.
Block Club Chicago, Montana Free Press and the South Side Weekly each took a methodical approach to their audience research that included four key steps.
The tools the newsrooms used were not complicated — surveys, focus groups, light data analysis — but the key was understanding how each piece fit together and contributed to a larger picture of how an expansion would affect the organization and its relationship with its audience.
The full case study goes into greater detail on how each component worked and how to see those connections. Over the next year, INN will expand the tools and services available to members who need to conduct their own audience research, including more on how to build audience profiles and how they relate to a larger market, as well as resources to conduct rigorous surveys and help analyzing the results.
This case study was made possible with support from the Google News Initiative, as well as INN’s general support funders.Back to top