John Norris: Media outlets give readers what they want

June 6, 2017, by John Norris

We seem to have entered the news doldrums, where our choices are: 1. an endless barrage of so-called analysis of the Administration’s perceived foibles and follies, or 2. stories which are the journalistic equivalent of delivery pizza. They might be tasty going down, but are ultimately forgettable.

While folks might bemoan what passes for news these days, the media is simply giving us what we want. Every news organization has the ability to track user reading patterns better than even the New York Times could 20 years ago. If a story about plastic milk jugs in Timbuktu gets a zillion reads, guess what? There will be a follow up story or fourteen. If a feature about an obscure Auburn football recruit gets 500 shares, you can expect another article about a different young man in a day or two. However, an article about extraterrestrials breeding mutant grizzly bears in Lowndes County will end up in File 13 if enough folks don’t click, comment, share, and like.

Frankly, it is a numbers game. A news outlet with, say, 500,000 unique user visits, subscriptions, shares, and clicks will command a higher dollar amount for ad space than one with only 5,000. That makes sense. So, it should come as no surprise the media industry simply provides that which pays the bills.

(Read the full article as previously published in the Montgomery Advertiser on June 5th, 2017)