The Audience in the News

The Audience in the News

The Audience in the News

The Audience in the News

Synopsis

In recent years, communication scholars have taken a renewed interest in analyzing the audience and its impact on the communication process. Similarly, news editors and producers have often turned toward a marketing orientation which seeks to give new readers and viewers what they want, or at least what they say they want. Yet, there has still been little written about just howthe audience factors into the news which is produced. Seeking to fill that niche, this book argues that audience images are quite important in the construction of news, but not easily detected. That is because journalists are not principally interested in their audience; they are interested in the news.

USE THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY FOR GENERAL CATALOGS... This volume argues that although journalistic images of the audience may be "incomplete," they do exist and powerfully help shape the work of journalists in producing journalistic texts. Using a case study of news workers and news texts at two Chicago newsgathering organizations, the Chicago Tribuneand WGN-TV, this book:

• examines notions of audience and how they have been treated by academicians,

• presents a detailed description of the ways in which audience is embedded within the news construction process,

• presents a very representative set of journalistic news values,

• presents differing ideas of audience at three key levels of the news organizations -- reporters and news gatherers, editors and producers, and senior editors, producers, and news directors, and

• seeks to summarize and position this study within the larger body of mass communication research.

Excerpt

In recent years, communications scholars have taken a renewed interest in analyzing the audience and its impact on the communication process, for example, Ang (1991) in Desperately Seeking the Audience, Neuman (1991) in The Future of the Mass Audience, and Ettema and Whitney (1994c) in Audiencemaking: Media Audiences as Industrial Process. Similarly, news editors and producers have often turned toward a marketing orientation that seeks to give news readers and viewers what they want, or at least what they say they want. Yet, there still has been little written about just how the audience factors into the news that is produced. In this book, I seek to fill that niche. I argue that audience images are quite important in the construction of news, but are not easily detected. That is because journalists are not principally interested in their audience; they are interested in the news.

Traditionally, when media scholars have tried to describe the role audience members play in the construction of news texts, they have started by asking reporters their impression of audience members, and then gauged how accurate those journalists' impressions of the audience were when patterned against demographic data. Generally, the results were discouraging. Reporters did not seem to have an accurate impression of their audience. Journalists had under-

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