European Federation of Journalists

Understanding audiences is crucial in an ever-changing digital environment

Audience research methods was the topic of the two workshops organised by the Local Media for Democracy (LM4D) project, as part of a series of workshops developed for this project. Journalists from the first round of grantees of the LM4D Media Funding Scheme attended the two online meetings on the subject.  

Understanding audiences in the modern and ever-changing digital environment is crucial not only for developing content and distribution strategies, but also for developing innovative products and business models. 

“LM4D offers a capacity building program to assist local media in achieving their project objectives and strengthening their long-term sustainability. The program is designed around the partners’ needs. Not surprisingly, audience research methods happened to be one of their priorities.” stated Iryna Vidanava, workshop lead and International Media Support (IMS) business viability advisor.

The workshops were held by John Mills, audience research expert. The participants familiarised themselves with methods including one to one interviews, focus groups and online surveys during the first part. The second part focused on understanding the target audience, getting to know them and interviewing them. The objective was to understand how to gain their trust as sources for developing local and community news.

 “Before conducting audience research, journalists should consider who they want to answer their questions,” Mills explained and urged the participants not to stick only to one research method, since one single method doesn’t provide comprehensive data. In order to get useful data that journalists could use to improve their work, a mixed research approach is required. As he stressed, audience research should be ongoing and interactive. 

 “With new technologies, emerge new opportunities and methods for audience research but also new challenges. These two workshops offered an overview of the range of methods, tailored to the needs and capacities of the local public interest media,” said Vidanava.

The Local Media for Democracy project is an 18-month project co-funded by the European Commission and launched by a consortium of partners: the Journalismfund Europe, the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), International Media Support (IMS), and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). Another group of winners that applied at the project will be announced in mid-December.