Last time, I reprinted a portion of an e-mail conversation between Karen Black, NTID director of media relations, and me about the role of this blog. Our conversation continues:
Karen: Your radio analogy is a good one. To that point, have we asked our audience what they want? Do we know what they want, or are we making assumptions? Have we surveyed them to get their feedback on what they want, or are we forcing them to want what we think they should want? Why not put together a survey that offers a wide variety of choices, as well as write-in options, to see what our audience would like, instead of force-feeding them?
Mike: No, we haven’t conducted a formal survey—although, on a couple occasions, I’ve solicited feedback on what readers want. But, you’re right—at present we’ve made assumptions.
I’ll add, although our assumptions aren’t scientifically based, neither are they wild assumptions. We’re a fairly intelligent group offering something a little bit different: A university news blog that avoids PR spin (this candid, public conversation is a good example).
If you’ll forgive another radio analogy: When I hosted my request show, “The Jukebox,” on WKLX-FM/WBBF-FM, I had to turn away a lot of requests. Naturally, some listeners were disappointed as a result. But I had to consider my wider audience (including those in the majority who didn’t phone in). My philosophy was this: Though certain listeners influenced the show, ultimately someone had to be in control, guiding it, to prevent total chaos from breaking out.
Turning back to this blog . . . Sure, we could survey our target audience. But, past experience shows, response would be small—which could result in our catering to the interests of a handful of readers while ignoring those in our wider audience (people who—like my listeners who didn’t make requests—read the blog, but generally don’t comment, sometimes referred to as “lurkers”). Conversely, because we don’t want “total chaos” in the form of a mishmash of disjointed topics, we would need to turn away some “requests.”
So, we’ve decided to focus instead on our niche.
To again paraphrase anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, who asked about print’s role in the face of competition from new media, “What can print do better than any other medium and is that worth doing?” Applying it here:
“What can The Tiger Beat Blog do better than any other medium and is that worth doing?”
This blog offers the “inside story” about RIT news better than any other medium anywhere in the world. Nobody does it better than us. (How could they?) Is this worth doing? That part of the question remains unanswered.
Today, we’re committed to the blog’s theme, “Behind the scenes of RIT University News.” But, if one day we were to decide on another direction, we could consider—furthering the radio analogy—“changing format.” (Anyone for “All John Follaco, All the Time”? I, for one, would love to read more on the continuing saga of John’s quest to date—’er contact, I mean—Miss Croatia. ;~)
Thanks to those of you who joined the conversation about the role of this blog.