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Journalist Fellows' Papers

From a lecture to a conversation: audience empowerment in business newspapers in the digital era

Reuters Institute Fellow's Paper

The media are going through a huge revolution in many ways, but perhaps the biggest change is the growing power of the audience. This change is especially significant in newspapers, where the relationship to the audience has been traditionally more distant than in the other forms of media. Now, both because of the new technology and new business models, this has had to change.In her research paper, 'From a lecture to a conversation: audience empowerment in business newspapers in the digital era', journalist fellow Mirjami Saarinen has studied how this empowerment of the audience has affected business papers. 

By a close examination of four business papers, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Dagens Industri and her own paper Kauppalehti, she found that the change has been a profound one, but not as revolutionary as in other forms of media. For example the use of user generated content (UGC) is more limited in business papers. Business papers need to have a closer relationship with their readers, but at the same time they have to strengthen their own authority and expertise which are the core of their brands. These two targets are largely contradictory, but finding the right balance is the key to the success of business papers in the future.

As Mirjami concludes, ‘I found no clear answers to the challenges and possibilities the empowerment of the audience brings to business papers. As is often the case in journalism, the question is not about strict rules but about balance and good judgements in everyday work. That is the difficulty but also the beauty of it.'

As with all Fellows’ research papers, any opinions expressed are those of the author and not of the Institute.

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