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. You can also suggest questions I should be asking my interview subjects. This thing is constantly evolving so feel free to chime in with comments of any kind.
This week’s news consumer is Pete Leiser. Pete’s a local if you’re reading this in the Chicagoland area. He resides in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, though he spends a lot of time traveling for business reasons. He’s 40 years old, single, never married and has no kids. He works in sales and his income is upwards of 75k. He has never been employed by a media organization and yet you’ll see he’s got a great handle on our business.
Publishers, much like young Vicky Boykis, Pete is a great target for your content. He’s intellectually curious and has disposable income. You should want to make readers like him very happy. His attention is certain to make your advertisers thrilled as well.
Ready for the interview part of our program? Here we go! By the way, anything in italics is mine and any linking is also by me, not Pete.
How have your news consumption habits changed over the years or have they stayed about the same?
I’ve always been an avid consumer of news (poli-sci background); but, as the internet makes it easier to consume, I consume more. My reading consumption has been rather diverse; but, I’ve always had a bit of an appetite for news/current events. As I note, later: fiction, then non-fiction/biography, historic works.
I had a morning paper route when I was 10, and read the paper as I delivered, then picked up the evening paper when it was delivered to our house. Not that, at 10, I had much of a grasp of the nuances and such, but I kind of got the gist of what as going on.
Once more news agencies started putting content online, I gave up on the dead-tree aspect of media and have gone strictly digital (unless, of course, I’m on a plane, or pick up the free paper in a hotel lobby).
The political bug bit me early on, but not until high school did I start to really pay it much mind. Probably due to the US/USSR arms race. I continued to read the newspaper (Columbus Dispatch/Cleveland Plain Dealer/NYT).
Of course, I began my book-ish/fiction/novelist-wanna-be phase (my PoliSci/Int’l Relations course-load in college was oddly paired with a English/Creative Writing load). So, between pouring over Malthusian theories, I’d scoured most of the 20th century American novelists.
After college, upon realizing that I just didn’t have the fictional chops, I turned my attention towards non-fiction/biographies. This carries on, today. I’ve been reading up on the Founding Fathers, Einstein, history of East/West relations, origins of Islam, etc.
Essentially, when a debatable topic pops in daily conversations, I’ll do the research to get an idea of the historical aspects of issues. I like to check out as many different viewpoints on issues at hand, as possible. I’ll hit Hot Air, and then run over to Huffington Post to check the counter argument. Though, I tend to steer clear of the radical bits: Daily Kos/Freepers, and the like. I tend to treat those views as outliers.
Where do you usually get your news from on a daily basis? Specify print, online or otherwise for each source you list.
The only time I get news in print is when I’m on a plane (or otherwise out of network connectivity range).
What are the things you are most interested in reading about? Are those needs being met by what’s available to you?
My main interest is politics. As I’ve been in Uptown for a few years, my interests have shifted from a national/international level to a more local concern. My needs are partially met by the local media.
In the Chicago area, I can’t rightly consider one outlet any better/worse than another. I am finding that the hyper-local sites tend to delve deeper into issues as (rightly or wrongly) the authors are more exposed to the outcomes of issues than the kids running about downtown [Ahem, I think he's talking about you, Sun-Times and Tribune reporters. I know that you go outside of downtown, but if it's not evident to a reader that that's the case...]
For the record, when I say “not comprehensive enough”, I mean that there are daily examples of lazy journalism with the major players in the media.
An article may state that there were “other issues” or “charges in the past” without the reporter giving any indication of what those “other things” might be.
S-T/Trib are notorious for that, as is CNN, USA Today, et al.
Further, there is a tendency to focus on one side of an issue with major media … I’m not sure if that’s a bias, or just laziness; but, more often than not, when you leave an article with more questions than answers, there’s a problem.
Specifically in Chicago, I cannot prove yet I cannot shake that some of the reporters are too close to the “establishment.” At times it seems as though some deeper issues are ignored either as a way to protect a particular person, or to protect the reporter/subject relationship [This is something others have written about with greater eloquence than I could.]
Either way, I have a strong sense that the current crop of newspeople have lost touch with the role of the 4th estate.
What is your number one complaint about the news media? This can be general or really specific.
Reporting that isn’t comprehensive. Maybe it’s due to the need to flash stories to print/online; but, almost daily, there is a story which is missing some vital information. Be it background info, or – specifically – roll call votes. Too often, local media states a 45-5 City Council vote, or a vote on Cook County’s board without detailing how either body voted.
[This concern about a focus on breaking news at the expense of more complete stories was also brought up by the previous interviewee. And of course we all know that even breaking news is problematic.]
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?
I do not pay subscriptions for online news media – and have no plans to do so.
[Debut of a new question coming in 3...2...1...]
Other than the Chicago Tribune or the Sun-Times News Group’s publications, what other print producers of news can you name in the Chicagoland area? What online ones can you name? (this can include blogs, news aggregators, etc).
Daily Herald, Defender, Chicago Reader (which might be the best of the lot with regards to the rolling up the sleeves and doing the deep diving of political issues), Free Press, Red Eye, Crain’s.
Online is close the same, until you add the local/hyper-local blogs: CTA Tattler, Edgewater Community Buzz, EveryBlock, Gaper’s Block, Windy Citizen, Lake Effect News.