Media organizations, this is how you pander to your readers

Although it has been tweeted multiple times already (and posted to Facebook no doubt), here’s TIME Magazines latest tweet urging people to join a Facebook group they’ve set up. Everyone who joins the group gives TIME permission to use their profile picture in an upcoming story about, what else, Facebook. 

The group’s descriptions reads thusly:

Hey everybody, TIME Magazine is writing a story about Facebook, and we need your help. Right now we are looking for profile pictures… which means you (yes, you) could be in TIME Magazine! Join the “I Want To Be in TIME” group to give TIME permission to use your profile picture in our upcoming story.

I guess the assumption is that it would be a thrill for the average Joe to be in a national magazine (even though no details are given about how large the pictures would be or how many would be included). Over 2,300 group members seem to agree and I have to admit that using a Facebook group for this task is a great idea. It takes just one click for people to give permission for their picture to be used. In the past, this would undoubtedly have taken massive amounts of paperwork and/or phone calls.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that while I love it when the media interacts with their audience, this isn’t the kind of interaction I’d like to see more of. This isn’t substantive. This doesn’t engender any special trust between TIME and their readers. This doesn’t give the readers any insight into the inner workings of TIME. This doesn’t give the readers access to TIME writers and editors. This doesn’t allow the readers a two-way dialog in any way.

Maybe TIME does all these others things. If so, great. But this is the kind of thing they should do less of. 

One Comment

  1. Anonymous May 12, 2010

    I prefer to give people (and publications) the benefit of the doubt; I hope TIME does more to interact with its readers than this. I think TIME’s been slipping for yeeeeeeears now, though…so…

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