Blogs are not creating communities they are providing services for communities that already exist.
Probably the first thing we were taught as a welcome to this journalism course was…..
WHO ARE YOU WRITING FOR ?? (And yes it was capitalised and highlighted in red.)
In short, communities and audiences are fundamental to the journalism industry, without them there would be no journalism industry.
Authors of an international journal on the community requirements of the magazine industry remarked: “the community concept offers opportunities to further bridge the gap between a product and the needs of the consumer.”
So – first and foremost – we must put the audience’s needs before anyone else’s.
But is that easier said that done?
As the online world continues to develop, hordes of communities and ‘micro communities’ are forming daily. People can personalise their internet more than they ever have before. As I have discussed in previous posts, this is somewhat compartmentalising audiences.
So is it ok to rely on the idea that communities are already there to target – or do we need to create new ones?
Is it becoming harder now than ever to write for audiences and communities? Or – is this great segregation simply providing more opportunity to target more particular groups of people within society as a whole. In which case are bloggers and online journalism resources facing a losing battle by trying to provide services for ever more individualised audiences? So many questions!
Perhaps what is important to consider is the point mentioned by blogger enthusiast Adam Tinworth who suggests how important it is to attract and link other web pages to your own site and blog. In this respect bloggers might not be creating communities, but they do have to put in some hard grind to attract already established communities to their sites.
Essentially however, what we are left with, is the necessity of a community to the journalism industry and the vastness of the online world – which could prove to be a pretty challenging combination.
But hasn’t catering for the media community been incessantly and forcefully challenging since the very beginnings of the industry?
The more I consider it – the more I think the idea that we are catering to already established communities rather than creating new ones is a bit of a ‘chicken and the egg’ situation.
Communities of people with particular interests already exist. But even without taking the online journalism world into account their are hundreds of print institutions all competing for communities of readers.
Take, for example, the travel magazine profession. There are dozens of travel magazines on offer in the UK alone. Each periodical needs to attract its own community by selecting a particular niche of an audience and in that sense they are building – or creating – a new community.
So do we need to cater to already existant communities? Or do we need to attract communities by creating niches they will fit into?
Perhaps it is a combination of the two we need. But one thing is certain. With the constant development of the online world comes a greater urgency than ever to attract – and keep – our audiences.