How Journalists can use Market Research

Information is at the heart of a journalist’s job – whether it be taking notes as they watch a newsworthy story unfold, interviewing sources, conducting online research, or pulling relevant statistics from a report. Because market research is all about gathering information, it can be an extremely useful tool for journalists. Here are some examples:

Reporting Data

Market research firms are in the business of collecting opinions from specific groups of people. Journalists need this type of information too. While they don’t have a target market per se, they often need sources to inform their article.  A journalist who is writing on global warming, for example, may want to interview scientists to get an expert’s view on the phenomenon, but they might also want to gauge the average person’s awareness of it. With market research, journalists can specify exactly who they want to survey. They can also utilize existing reports published by large market research firms like Nielsen or comSCORE.

Social Media Sidenote: More journalists than ever before are using social media to find sources and conduct research. According to a recent Cision study, 89% use blogs for research, 65% collect data from social networking websites, and 52% consult microblogging websites like Twitter. Social media is a disruptive force in today’s information age. It’s changing the way we communicate with others, get the news, and do business.

Opinion poll

While facts are a necessary component of any news article, sometimes public opinion is what matters most. Especially in politics, it’s important to understand the public perception of recent events. By carrying out a one-question public opinion poll or a short market research survey, journalists can easily add an interesting piece of information to their article.

Reader feedback

The target market for most news publications consists of all readers, which encompasses a very broad group of people. If a news site wants to get a better understanding of their readers, surveying them can be very effective. Publications can ask readers for feedback to find ways to improve or to discover the most compelling topics among different target markets.

What if a newspaper isn’t reaching its intended demographic? Through market research, the newspaper can ask readers of competitor publications why the other newspapers are more appealing and what it can do to grow its readership.

What do you think? What is the best way for journalists to gauge public opinion? Should journalists use market research?

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