By Jacob Nelson
Northwestern professor James Webster, who has a new book out that focuses on the effects of a proliferation of media choices in the digital age, talked about media audiences in an interview with the American Press Institute published last week. Webster, who is teaching a course this quarter about media audiences in the MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program, talked about media audiences from both the perspective of people who consume media and the companies that create it.
“The media environment itself is way more active than people realize,” Webster said. “Pragmatically, if you’re a media maker, then you’ve got to think, ‘How can I harness some of these forces to my advantage?'”
The interview, which was done by API’s Millie Tran, is a fascinating look at what elements go into building an audience. This includes things that are outside of the control of the media producers. “All you have to do is create something that the right people will like and they’ll just come back again and again. I think while you’re doing that, you also have to be mindful of these structural forces that we’ve been talking about, though,” Webster said. “So it’s not, ‘if only I make my editorial content better,’ or ‘get just the right mix’ that’s all you have to worry about. You also have to worry about things outside of the editorial content of the paper or the outlet or whatever medium you’re talking about.”
Webster also recently discussed media audiences and big data with Stacey Lynn Schulman, who is the Executive Vice President of Strategy, Analytics and Research at Katz Media Group. The discussion was part of MSLCE’s first speaker series. Read the full API interview here.