What do our customers think?


This interview is part of a series of conversations with news consumers. All of the interviews are compiled here as well as information on how to sign up to be interviewed yourself. Please stop by there to read and hopefully comment on what you find.

This week’s media consumer in the spotlight is Mario Smith. Mario lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood which is home to, among other things, the University of Chicago. Perhaps due to this, Hyde Parkers have generally been known as very intellectual and certainly avid readers.

Mario is 42, single and has one child. So without further delay, here we go. My questions are in bold and Mario’s answers appear below each question:

How have your news consumption habits changed over the years or have they stayed about the same?

They’ve changed with technology. It’s much easier for me to get news from non-traditional sources and the king of non-traditional sources Twitter.

Where do you usually get your news from on a daily basis? Specify print, online or otherwise for each source you list.

Twitter for the initial “breaking news” announcement, The Chicago Tribune (Online) , New York Times (Online), Yahoo Sports (Online).

What are the things you are most interested in reading about? Are those needs being met by what’s available to you?

I enjoy reading about world news and national news. Locally the way news is reported has changed so much that indie news sources are fast becoming much more “journalistic” for my taste – a good thing. I like reading about sports and science as well.

Here I asked Mario if he could expand a bit more on this. His reply was:

I mean that the indie sites tend to be more about reporting the story. I get more of THE STORY particularly as stories relate to me on a local level. Chicagoist [link mine] is a great example. When I log on to Chicagoist I know what I am going to get. Straight ahead reporting – no filler. People like Ben Joravsky at the Chicago Reader, he is in my opinion a real throwback as that relates to “Chicago style” journalism. He’s unafraid and he get’s right to the subject at hand. He challenges me to research – I like that. He’s also a great interview… [Mario hosts a radio program for the University of Chicago’s student radio station].

What is your number one complaint about the news media? This can be general or really specific. If possible, provide specific examples.

My main complaint is that EVERYTHING is Breaking News and the way people of color are portrayed is troubling. The stories that come out of neighborhoods (populated by people of color) are primarily ones of violence and crime. While those things are important, there are other things happening with people of color in those same neighborhoods and deserve to be covered with just as much zeal. Not every bloody thing is breaking or developing when it comes to news – my God. The newsroom of 2010 is way different than the newsroom of 1980.

Pressed for more on an explanation on this as well, Mario said:

Technology has turned everybody into a budding reporter. Blogs have truly changed the way news is received and disseminated and I believe that in mainstream newsrooms the reliance on technology has changed the way reporters approach the story. In that regard Americans seemingly are more interested in gossip as opposed to real news. TMZ is now considered as reliable source for news while places like the NY Times and Chicago Sun-Times are having problems selling papers, their websites are booming and until the day arrives that Kindle-esque devices are created to work in place of newspapers thus giving readers all of the bells and whistles of newspaper based websites, this imbalance will continue.

Do you currently pay for any news content online? If yes, describe what type of content it is. If no, would you be willing to pay any amount for news content online? (this is a new question and one I will ask from now on)

No I don’t but I might depending on what that content would be. I believe for me it would have to be something that was iPad compatible. I just got one of those bad boys and I would be more inclined to pay for things that are compatible with it. I would be open to paying for more exclusive content then.


Insights for me on this one were:

– The breaking news fatigue. Is anyone else experiencing this?

– A preference for a certain style of journalism that is increasingly difficult to find. 

– There is an awareness of the rise of gossip. I suppose have many people to “thank” for that such as Nick Denton.

– The concern about the coverage of people of color and disadvantaged neighborhoods. This for me was the most powerful takeaway.

What was most interesting to you about Mario’s responses?

By the way, you can find Mario on Twitter

“Tune in” next week on Thursday for another news consumer interview and remember to follow the entire series here.




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