Seeking Sound (2)

Panic is too big a word. They’re getting nervous, that’s for sure. Less listeners tune in, so the flagship is heading for stormy waters – or worse a sand bank. They’re trying new formats for the NOS Radio Morning Show, which is great. But I wonder, shouldn’t they also focus on different ways of reaching out to listeners?

Everybody is suffering from declining numbers. Inevitable, with so many options at hand. It’s not just the endless frequencies and websites, but also new pick and choose opportunities and -most importantly- the customization of getting news.

We listen to you

BBC Radio 4 started something fascinating in that last category. Their PM show literally asked the listeners: Okay, you tell us what news you want to hear.

Share what you know is their new mantra, where bloggers can add questions, knowledge, information, criticism to the PM-blog. On Saturday it all comes together in a 24 minute compilation. It’s like Frank Sinatra calling out to his audience. Okay, what do you wanna hear, and I’ll sing a great tune to it.

I’m not saying this iPM thing is the way to go. Listening to it I felt the authority of news makers and news bringers was slipping away. But that’s probably the point. Listeners aren’t running away, they just need to be engaged. We radio makers need to open our eyes to seek their ears.

Below, the running sheet for the iPM show (bbc.co.uk)

iPM running sheet (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ipm)

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5 Responses to “Seeking Sound (2)”

  1. roland koopman Says:

    Hey Tim, please don’t go there. The whole concept of marketking journalism and giving in to the urge of broadcasters to bring what the wider audience wants to hear, will be the end of journalism. Market share has nothing to do with quality.
    The experiment of interacting media sounds interesting though. Creating a kind of News Wiki that makes every news consumer a roving correspondent sounds sparkling, dynamic and ultimately democratic. Make every citizen an active and responsible player in society. Share knowledge and learn more!. What a great mantras! And what a Utopia.
    By turning the news media into a playground for the masses you open the gates for right wing and left wing idiots, racists and everyone else who wants to empty his bucket of filth opinions.
    And what about more subtle and intelligent attempts from governments, political stakeholders or commercial parties to manipulate and influence the course of the story. How do you prevent manipulation? And who will be checking the facts?
    It is your job as a journalist to do that!
    I am not saying you should stop communicating with your audience. You should keep your radar up and running at all times. And you should never get tired explaining why the news you bring is so damn important. And you will have to adjust the story telling technique to the audience you have.
    But the news selection, the filtering and the story production should be yours and yours alone as a professional journalist.

  2. overdiek Says:

    Well, I don’t think we go there. I think we have already arrived.
    It’s too cynical to suggest the end of journalism is near if we turn the news media intro a playground for the masses.
    There will always be attempt to manipulate and influence. But that’s exactly where ‘we’ as journalists are good at. We do have those antennas, but that doesn’t mean that we have to keep our job a one way street.
    If we do open our gates, we will be commended and appreciated and we will keep that opportunity to deliver quality stuff.
    So yeah, I’m going there. Wanna come?

  3. roland koopman Says:

    You make it all sound fresh, almost New Age or make it a kind of religious belief that the internet is going to take us places no man has gone before…
    I don’t want to sound too cynical, but I’ve been hearing this too many times before.
    I’m afraid it’s a little dodgier than that.
    It is fear that guides us.The prophets say that traditional media will be wiped out by the web one day and we are afraid that if we -the traditional media- don’t innovate we will become obsolete. So all of a sudden there is USG -the User Generated Content- as a holy grail that will bind the audiences to the networks.
    There’s a little envy in that. News broadcasters would love to copy the succes of the YouTubes and the Wikis and open up their servers for videos, blogs and comments. Hungry for the speed, the alledged extensive knowlegde and the network capabilities of the web. They’re not even questioning whether this should be their role. It’s like when newspapers start mixing the personal ads with the font page news.
    Believe me, it is not going to take us anywhere. The idiots I was referring to used to send faxes to the newsrooms, now they’re using e-mail and soon they will be clothing up the server pipelines with their fresh ‘n bright world views on islam, immigrants, the death penalty and other human rights issues and we are giving them direct acces to the world. I like free speech, but no, I would not like to give the floor to those.
    And don’t expect any miracles as for the democratic participation and a better citizenship from the internet. Most phone-in radio shows on politics have been banned to the late night.
    And as for knowlegde. Th web offers more, but I’m afraid it is more of the same. So let’s not exagerate the meaning of the web. The media seems no longer the message.
    The internet may wipe out traditional media, it will for sure not wipe out traditional journalism. The web should be seen and used as a new tool, or a whole set of new tools to communicate with the world. But the values must persist. Journalistic hotspots on the world wide web should never become an information dump, but a beacon of reliability in the information jungle.
    You can’t argue with that!

  4. Rupert Allman Says:

    Roland/Tim..
    Interesting posts – I’m the Editor of iPM – appreciate all the early feedback. What we are setting out to do is diffrent from the UGC driven content you might have come across elsewhere. For me, there are two main themes. First – transparency. An open door on what we do, who we are and why we change our minds. This is not a programme that is gievn entirely over to the listener – sure we ask for their suggestions, to accompany ours – everything is made public on the blog and the through the week those stories that generate most interest or develop in the most interesting ways are more likely to make the final programme. Also we’re able to use the blog to post up unedited versions of what we do so those who want to ( have time to ) listen to a feature in more detail can do. Plenty that happens on the blog doesn’t make the final cut but that’s the nature of our business. Second, is a play on what we are calling “share what you know”. A typical Radio 4 listener is engaged, intelligent, informed and, for some, they’re happy to pass on their knowledge to help us produce a better informed, more engaging listen. Do we get the idiots – yes but to judge for the response so far they are in a tiny minority – and I would like to think that I have been doing my job long enough to know when someone has a post/comment worth looking at in more detail or not. So there is an ulitmate filter – a team of professional journalists. Why shouldn’t we acknowledge that, if you know where to look, there are stories that attract huge interest online and we ( old school ) shouldn’t be afraid to explore ways we can take such conversations/debate as a cue for part ( not all ) of our journalism.

  5. overdiek Says:

    Thanks, Rupert, for your response. I think we all agree on the ultimate filter aspect. As professional journalists we are the final gatekeeper of the quality that you (BBC), Roland (RTL) and I (NOS) will keep fighting for in these uncertain but exciting times.

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