Read online comments to build brand better

New York, July 3 (IANS) Paying attention to the comments that readers leave on news websites can help editors and owners of news organisations better serve their consumers and also strengthen the brand, says a study.

Leaders of news outlets should be aware of how their organisations are being judged by readers, said Timothy Vos, associate professor at University of Missouri School of Journalism.

“News organisations, are seeking to establish and build their identities. In doing so, it is important to know how people view their brand and what standards they hold for you,” Vos said.

Readers value different journalistic traits and reading their comments may offer insights into their expectations for journalists.

“Although news organisations do not necessarily need to readjust what ideals they find important, they should at least understand what their readers value, not only to serve them better, but also to maintain viability.”

For this study, the researchers examined thousands of reader comments on ombudsman columns of three national online news publications: The New York Times, Washington Post and National Public Radio (NPR).

They found reoccurring comments calling for journalistic ideals outside of traditional values, such as transparency.

Readers often hold journalism outlets to basic social standards that are better applied to individuals rather than corporate entities.

They found multiple occurrences of such adjectives as sanctimonious, self-absorbed, judgmental, inhumane, and lazy to describe entire news outlets.

“News leaders need to understand how readers are anthropomorphising their organisations by applying human adjectives to non-human entities,” the author said.

“Understanding this phenomenon can help news organisations better evaluate and address how to best present their brands to the public.”

This study was published in the journal Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism.

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