Posted in Industry Insights

Engaging audiences amid news fatigue

, by Nicole Meir

Speaking at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York on Thursday, Executive Editor Julie Pace outlined several challenges facing the news industry and steps news organizations must take to address them.

Finding new ways to inform and engage audiences at a time of news fatigue and news avoidance, she said, is crucial:

For many people, news – the kind of independent, fact-based, eyewitness journalism that so many of us believe in so deeply, the kind of journalism that has been the core of what we’ve been doing at The Associated Press for 178 years – for so many people that kind of news doesn’t feel essential or relevant to their lives. Many people don’t necessarily feel like they’re missing out if they’re not consuming news that may challenge or provoke them – or worse, they know they’re missing out and they’re OK with that.

While the media industry can’t solve this on its own, Pace said, there are tangible steps news organizations can take to better engage the public, such as producing attention-worthy journalism and improving representation.

Pace said:

Courtesy of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.
As news organizations, we have to really recognize and respect the fact that there is so much out there competing for people’s attention – it’s not just competing news sources or even social platforms, it’s their jobs, their families – real life. So we have to make our journalism worthy of their time.

AP’s explanatory work around election race calls, Pace said, is a successful example of building trust through pulling back the curtain and “making the extra effort to show our work.”

Pace also stressed the importance of representation:

If we’re honest, part of the reason it’s easy for people to tune out the news is that they don’t see themselves represented in the coverage – often because they’re not represented among the people leading and executing on the coverage. That’s a reality we have to tackle across so many fronts – race, gender, class and socioeconomics, education levels, political persuasions.”

AP is addressing this through a number of ways including hiring journalists who are from the countries they are covering, embedding race and gender reporting led by women journalists and journalists of color into beats that may not feel obvious, and incorporating a diversity of experience into AP’s staff.

"We have to make a conscious effort to ensure that our staff has a diversity of experiences – we have to recruit differently, we have to ask different questions in interviews,” said Pace. “We have to be willing to take risks."