What do our customers think?


This interview is part of a series of conversations with news consumers. All of the interviews are compiled here. Want to be interviewed? Sign up here. Have a question to suggest that I should be asking the interviewees? Tweet me. Have comments or questions for me or anyone I’ve talked to? Myself and my interview subjects welcome your comments on this or any other interview in the series.

First of all, allow me to apologize for the missing interviews the last two weeks. Posterous has been going down quite a bit lately. They’re working on it, but… ok., how long should I go on with the charade that anyone is actually reading these interviews? It’s not as if the last two weeks people have been beating down my door shouting WHY IS THERE NO NEW INTERVIEW???!!!

Whew. Felt good to get that out of my system. Shall we move on to the interviewee? Yes, I think we should.

This week’s news consumer would like to stay anonymous so let’s just call her Wanda. Why Wanda? Why not?

Wanda is a 40 year old single Chicagoan. She has no children, makes around 45k per year and works as an attorney. Since I know who she is and you don’t, I can attest that her intellect and curiosity about the world is on par with my past interviewees. Thus, once again, she is someone media companies should seek to please.

Aaaaaand, here we go with the questions. Any linking is mine and if you haven’t noticed already, when I have something to add I put it in brackets like these and italicize it like so—> [blah blah blah]

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

I’ve really stopped reading print newspapers except for the Sunday paper, and that’s really just for the coupons. With the 24/7 news cycle and having access to the internet almost all of the time, I don’t need newspapers. I also hate that the ink and paper have gotten cheaper and cheaper. Why put up with inky smudges all over everything (especially my face) when I don’t have to do that? [No one ever brought this up previously, but I have to agree. I used to spend a lot of time with print newspapers and I had to wash my hands thoroughly after I was through. Wanda is obviously less slovenly than me since I never considered whether the ink would get on my clothes, but that’s a valid concern indeed especially for a professional woman that needs to look her best in the morning.]

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

I get my news from CBS-2 Chicago, both online and on TV; NBC-5 Chicago, also online and on TV; Chicago Tribune, online; and various sources on Twitter including the Breaking News Tweet that you hate [Ahhh, Wanda knows my news preferences very well :-) I’ve probably gone on several tirades about this, but the most well-known is here]. I also get news from my mother. She sends me snarky emails about how Obama’s a horrible commie monster who’s ruining our country and I do some online research to refute her venom. I can’t think of all of the sources I use to refute her emails, but there are several. I try to stay away from blogs like Huffington Post when doing that b/c she just writes them off completely without reading them.

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

I’m interested in reading about the economy and how people are surviving in these times. I’m also interested in reading about how the US economy is affecting and being affected by the economies of other countries. I’ve got my blinders on lately. Sometimes it’s hard to get good coverage on the economy when Lindsay Lohan takes over a news day. [Publishers/reporters, are you frothing at the mouth? Are you thinking, we’ve got TONS of amazing news content, exactly what Wanda is looking for, what is she talking about with this Lindsay Lohan garbage? If yes, you might want to ask yourselves why Wanda isn’t seeing your amazing content. Perception is reality. If she doesn’t know it’s there, it might as well not be.]

What is your number one complaint about the news media? This can be general or really specific.

I have two complaints from which I can’t choose a number one: 

Celebrities and reality TV personalities are taking over the news. I understand that there’s a 24/7 news cycle with a lot of time to fill, but hey, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq go 24/7. The economy sucking wind also goes 24/7. How about covering those? Afraid that serious stories won’t attract news consumers? Great, thanks for pandering to the lowest common denominator.

News coverage is becoming too alarmist. Much of what happens in the economy is based on how people feel about the future. If you constantly run stories on how incredibly bad everything is and how the world is going to hell, people will react. I don’t believe the media should soft-peddle stories, but don’t over-do it just to get viewers/readers either. Present stories simply and truthfully, please [I’ve lost track now of how many people are asking for this type of adjustment in how stories are covered. I’m not in a position to make these news consumers’ wishes come true. If you are, please act accordingly].

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 currently pay for online news content.  Every now and then, I consider subscribing to the Wall Street Journal online, but that’s $100 a year and that’s about $50 too much for me [Take note: Wanda is willing to pay, but her threshold is set at a certain price point. If you’re considering charging for your content, you need to consider carefully what your audience can afford to pay. There’s also no reason it has to be a one-size-fits-all model. Maybe if the WSJ had a $50 option with less content, Wanda would sign up. So might others who feel the same way. Now, WSJ might not need this group’s $50 (even if the group is large). But other news orgs might].

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). No cheating! Just try to name these from memory.

There’s the Daily Herald and the Pioneer Press. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head [So bloggers and the like, you’re not making an impact with Wanda and I happen to know she does read blogs. Maybe she just doesn’t think of you as news providers. That might or might not be valid].

UPDATE: Wanda clarified her position on paying for the Wall Street Journal by saying “I would not pay $50 for less content from the WSJ. I would pay $50 for what they’re selling for $100. I’ll click past some advertising to get the less expensive content.”

Interesting, no? The willingness to put up with ads is much greater than the willingness to shell out cash. 

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