Home Mental Models of the Audience

Submitted by biverson on Tue, 03/03/2009 – 1:49pmin

Session Convenor: Barbara Iverson

Session Reporter: same

Discussion Participants: Karen Duffy, the Daytona Beach News-Journal; Barbara Kantrowits, Hechinger Institute on Education & the Media, Columbia University; Tom Stites, Banyon project; Anne Anderson Freelance writer; John Hamer, WA News Council and Leigh Montgomery from CSMonitor

JTM Breakout 3-2-09

Our topic was “Audiences: What mental models of our readers/viewers/v/users/PFKAA*” are appropriate for today?”

We began with a question: does it matter whether we think of our audience as “readers” or “viewers,” when they might be interacting, choosing, making things on site and stories we create.

The idea behind this session was to consider whether imagining an audience of readers was appropriate, given the various degrees of interactivity and content of interactive sites like games, databases, calculators, etc, should journalists create a set of typical user profiles as interactive designers do.

We looked at sites like Great Lakes Wiki, an NYTimes graphic feature which featured Mad Magazine‘s back page (remember the page you folded to reveal a visual joke) that you fold via your mouse. The point of this was to show how lots of news content requires more than just reading to be fully engaged with it, or to understand the non-linear narrative presented.

The discussion was informative, as we considered how you take the perspective of the user as you develop news stories that include slideshows, videos, calculators, games, and all kinds of non-linear narratives. We did not solve this problem, but had a good time talking about non-narrative media and the challenges of working with new forms of content.

*People formerly known as audience
<a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/03/28/arts/20080330_FOLD_IN_FEATURE.html?scp=1&sq=interactive&st=cse”>NYTimes Fold-Ins, Past and Present</a>

About Peggy Holman

Peggy Holman supports organizations and communities to uncover creative responses to complex challenges using innovative engagement processes. The Change Handbook, co-authored with Tom Devane and Steven Cady, documents many such processes. The book is the considered the definitive resource for leaders and consultants working to increase resilience, agility, and collaboration in organizations and other social systems. Peggy co-founded Journalism that Matters in 2001 with three journalists to support the pioneers who are shaping the emerging news and information ecology. Peggy’s latest book, Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity, supports people facing disruptions to invite others to join them in realizing new possibilities.
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