What if you ran a business and you discovered that a sizable group of people didn’t have confidence in your product? Hold that thought.
What if you ran a business and you discovered that a sizable group of people didn’t trust your product?
You’d try to change their perception, right? You are trustworthy. You have a great product that deserves their confidence! You’d try marketing to them. You’d try to improve what you produce? You’d survey them and engage with them?
But nothing works.
Gallup: Americans’ faith in each of three major news media platforms — television news, newspapers, and news on the Internet — is at or tied with record lows in Gallup’s long-standing confidence in institutions trend.
More Gallup: Now, 44% say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the mass media, identical to 2011 but up from 40% in 2012, the lowest reading since Gallup regularly began tracking the question in 1997.
So, now what do you do?
If you run a newspaper, perhaps you should consider this: Slightly less than one-fifth of self-identified conservatives (15%) say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in newspapers, tied with the 10-year low…. Liberals are far more likely than conservatives — or than the adult population in general — to be confident in newspapers (34%). Nearly a quarter of moderates (24%), meanwhile, have confidence in newspapers.
At what point does part of the intended audience become outside the main? When does trying to satisfy them hit the point of diminishing returns? When should you shift your paradigm and appeal to the group that has respect for you…where there may be opportunity for growth?
It might well be now.
This will grate on traditional journalists and our love for objectivity. Yet, most people don’t think we are objective and no amount of insisting that we are makes any difference. We can shift, as I have, to emphasize fairness, rather than objectivity, but I don’t know that it makes any difference. So why not be transparent in our biases? Drop the false equivalence. Turn away from Jay Rosen’s “view from nowhere.” Make news judgments differently, knowing that you’re appealing directly to a specific group. Stop worrying about balance on the editorial and OpEd pages. (If nothing else, it means you can drop this guy and this guy.)
It would be a gutsy move, and I doubt many news organizations will consider it. Newspapers are averse to fundamental change, and even though TV news has a lower confidence rating than newspapers, they still rake in the cash. Yes, I know that these data don’t say that conservatives don’t buy or read newspapers. And there are certainly other demographic factors involved in who buys and reads newspapers. (Or watches TV news.)
But given the audience trend lines, it’s worth talking about.