Know your audience. The first rule of communication, whether it’s newspapers, entertainment, preaching, or whatever. Makes it difficult for me to find an uninteresting news item, because as a journalism major, I know how reporters think. What’s more, I worked as both a reporter and a public relations media specialist, and I can find something interesting about dirt. You just need to know how to work it.
That’s not to say every news item is going to hold a high level of interest for every reader of a local newspaper. That would be impossible. It’s why most people have a section or three they typically skip, or perhaps have only one section they’ll read on a regular basis. Newspapers, as a rule, aren’t particularly expensive, so most readers can afford the luxury of throwing away something of which they read less than 10 percent.
Still, it’s impossible for me to call any story uninteresting, because I can almost immediately identify its audience and understand their concern about the issue. What I’m better at doing is calling out the reporter on how they covered the story, and I’m sympathetic even there — sometimes time constraints, poor direction from editors, unwilling witnesses & experts and always, always, those pesky deadlines get in the way. Add the final insult to injury, that is, sloppy late-night editing and headline writing and you may have a story you cringe at seeing the next day.
Of course there’s always the story that comes together beautifully, and you pray everyone you love and everyone you hate reads it with jaw-dropping admiration. The story that’s so compelling people who don’t generally care about the topic can’t put it down and post the online version to their Facebook pages. The one that makes them say, now I get it.
What’s more likely to happen if a story is truly uninteresting is that it’s poorly written, sadly researched and half-heartedly pulled together because the reporter doesn’t care or isn’t experienced enough to consider their audience.
There are major news organizations who’ve created a niche market — sometimes an exceptionally large and influential one — because they’re savvy about the audience they’re catering to and have talented, experienced editors & reporters who target that audiences’ wants & needs, hopes & fears. They exist for all forms of media.
Their stories are less likely to be uninteresting to anybody and more likely to be divisive because of the skill of those developing & writing the material. Local news has a far greater risk of being boring than national news, by its very nature.
Still, anything published likely has its readers, and anything on the air has its viewers, or it will soon disappear. So if you wonder why that terrible magazine or godawful news program is still around, it’s because they know their audience.
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