Wednesday, March 24, 2004


One of the many blogs I read is Rhetorica, by Dr. Andy Cline, a professor at Park University in Missouri. As he puts it: "The Rhetorica Network offers analysis and commentary about the rhetoric, propaganda, and spin of journalism and politics, including analysis of presidential speeches and election campaigns." He always has good reading there.

He had a post recently talking about audience, and how journalists need to ask themselves who their audience is when they write (or broadcast). It reminded me of something from the Commercial Appeal.

Not long after Chris Peck took over, the CA began a series of efforts to discover who their audience was and what that audience wanted. But I'm still amused at one particular tactic. The paper announced, in its pages, that it would be holding meetings around various communities in Memphis, open to the public. They were soliciting their opinions on what they wanted from the CA.

It struck me as odd then, and Rhetorica's post reminded of it, that if you face a shrinking audience, then you go to the ones who don't read you, either now or ever, and find out why, to find out what they want so you can get them back. They are the ones you want. The folks still reading your paper are either stuck or like what you're doing. No need to worry about them. Asking them is pointless, in terms of increasing circulation. Or so it seems to me.

But the CA didn't do that, so far as I know. They didn't advertise on television or radio, put up billboards, go to churches and community groups, etc. They didn't go outside their own pool, but stayed within. It's like preaching to the choir.

I've always found that funny.

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