Oct. 9th Finally, a vice president of audience (what took them so long?)
The EPUB book alert:
To all of those who are writing to let us know that you can’t buy The iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet, in your countries, or for your tablet, the good news is that we have completed the EPUB version and it should be ready to download as soon as this week. We will keep you informed.
TAKEAWAY: For years, there has been an enormous gap between what a newspaper audience wants and what the publisher/editor prefer. It was not easy to navigate these uncertainties in the midst of a project. Enter the first vice president of audience.
Used to be that I would seldom look at the title under someone’s name when he/she passed me a business card.
I have always believed in associating the face and the name, with the title only important when it comes to following protocol, making sure that the proper hierarchy is followed in correspondence and for the line of command in projects.
Today, however, taking a look at the small type under the bold name can be fun.
Although I have seen some interesting titles globally lately—-creative visual director, multi platform art director, digital platforms coordinator, digital/social media editor—-I admit I was taken by surprise when I read an Editor & Publisher story announcing the appointment of Steve Yelvington, as vice president of audience for the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News.
Yelvington is well known in the newspaper industry and he will probably do a great job in his new position. In fact, he may have to write the job description—-vice president of audience!
In the old days, this is a title that only existed in the head of a marketing person who might not even be called “director”.
Let’s hear it for the audience
It shows that the audience is gaining importance for publishers, and not a moment too soon. All of our internal revolutions in the newsroom are merely attempts at guessing what the “audience” wants:
I have lived thru several scripts of what “audience” wants in my 40 years in this business:
—-audience wants “bigger headlines” and “briefs”
—-audience wants “bigger photos with shorter stories”
—-audience wants fewer and smaller photos, but longer, more serious stories
—-audience wants no afternoon newspapers
—-audience thinks type in redesign is too small can’t read it well
—-audience wants lifestyle and trends news on Page One
—-audience wants color on every page
—-audience does not want so much color on a serious newspaper
—-audience wants more comic strips, and a bigger panel for Garfield the cat
—-audience wants to make sure Walla Walla is listed on the weather map!
—-audience wants a broadsheet format for the serious family newspaper
—-audience wants tabloid formats for all newspapers
—-audience does not care for full TV listings—save space and pull them out
—-audience misses the TV listings—put them back in pronto
—-audience wants all columns killed or changed, except Dear Abby
—-audience wants stories with younger topics throughout
—-audience does not want their newspaper to turn into a McPaper
—-audience does not have time to read newspaper
—-audience does not care for stock listings—pull them out
—-audience protesting that stock listings are no longer included
—-audience wants to read more on mobile platforms
—-audience prefers the old look instead of the new and flashy one
—-audience prefers to read on the tablet in horizontal mode
—-audience welcome long stories on mobiles
—audience does not read long pieces on mobiles
Enough to confuse anyone?
For sure. But, indeed, there has always been the daring person in the newsroom who would listen to the entire list of audience likes and dislikes as presented by the marketing expert, and say:
What the heck do they (the audience) know?
At this point in the meeting there would be some serious faces, some laughter, and a chagrined marketing person hugging the 500-page document with results of a report titled “What the audience wants”.
The meeting would be dismissed till further notice.
Everyone would be a little confused, and, as the consultant, I would always know that there would be a magic moment at which point what the “audience” says it wants would meet the realities of what the publisher, the editor and assorted others prefer, and, voilå, the project would be launched.
It was not easy. It was not scientific. It was the old way to do things, long before we had vice presidents of audience.
Why didn’t we think of that position before? Finally, someone with a name, a face, and a nifty title to blame for when we don’t guess right about what the audience wants.
And just one bit of advice from an old dog, Mr. Vice President of Audience: : audience does not always know what it wants, audience is tougher than editor in accepting change, and audience loves surprises. They expect their vice president to remember this!
Congratulations on your new job, and, good luck, Mr. Yelvington.
1st Middle East News Design Conference
It promises to be a great program, and a historic one, too: the first SND Middle East gathering.Â Put it on your calendars: November 8 & 9, in Beirut, Lebanon. Sponsored by An-Nahar and SND.
For more information:
TheMarioBlog post #1112
Posted by Dr. Mario R. Garcia on October 09, 2012
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Dr. Mario R. Garcia
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