Webinar: Your Audience is Your Partner

Photo: Webinar screenshot

“Editors and journalists are becoming aware that the audience is not just a news consumer, but their partner”, said Tihomir Loza, the executive director of SEENPM, during the webinar “Your Audience is Your Partner”.

“Traditional reporting begins with listening to the audience, while engagement happens when members of the public are responsive to you, and you are in turn responsive to members of the public”, said Meredith Turk, journalist and engagement strategist/trainer at Hearken, who was one of the speakers at the webinar “Your Audience is Your Partner”. The webinar brought together more than 40 participants across the Western Balkans interested in the media and audience engagement.

During her lecture, Turk explained how to increase media engagement with the audience and pointed out that traditional reporting begins with listening to the audience. She also gave examples of how the journalists can serve their audience.

“Invite audience to share something, listen to their questions, answer what they want to know, and repeat that circle”, said Turk and emphasized the importance of asking additional questions. Another way to increase interaction with the audience is to create, for example, a newsletter for those readers who want to subscribe to a certain website or other similar offers.

Dinko Dundić, the editor-in-chief at Fokus.ba, was the second speaker at the webinar. He presented the website Fokus.ba that was launched in 2014 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dundić explained that, in the beginning, it was very difficult for them to interact with the audience on Facebook, but after they began publishing investigative stories on corruption and crime – this has changed.

Fokus.ba had a great interaction with the readers while reporting about Favira, a medicine from Turkey that appeared in Bosnia and Herzegovina and was linked to unproven claims of treating COVID-19. The journalists asked pharmacies for the information about the drug with no success, but then the readers sent them receipts for this drug bought in Bosnian pharmacies. After the call to the authorities, this drug was banned.

“With this story and through the interaction with the readers, we wrote the article and the citizens got accurate information. That’s useful for both – the media and the citizens”, said Dundić.

At the end of the webinar, the participants said that it would be useful to organize another event dedicated to the topics such as moderation of the comments on social media and disinformation on social networks. Tihomir Loza, the executive director of SEENPM, said that editors and journalists are becoming aware that the audience is not just a news consumer and should become their partner, and that without stronger connection to the audience, journalism has no future.

The event was organized by SEENPM and Transitions in cooperation with Mediacentar Sarajevo, Montenegrin Media Institute, Macedonian Institute for Media, Albanian Media Institute, BIRN Kosovo and Novi Sad School of Journalism. The event was the first in a series of webinars that SEENPM and Transitions will hold in 2022.

Bosnian version of this article, originally written and published by Media.ba, can be found here.