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What do news readers really want to read about? How relevance works for news audiences

This report sheds light on how, in a high-choice media culture, people rely on a notion of personal relevance to choose what news stories to engage with as they seek to stay informed and to build connections in a democratic as well as personal sense. Based on an innovative qualitative method (Q methodology), it argues that research based on surveys or tracking data is insufficient for understanding how people navigate the news environment and what drives their interests. The key finding is that people find stories relevant that affect their personal lives and help them connect to others, and express substantial civic interest even as some avoid traditional political news. The study also identifies four specific profiles of news interest – people with common news story repertoires. Journalists should not rely only on data like most-read metrics, but follow their instincts and prioritise news stories with civic value.