Inside Satisfaction What it means, how to improve it. Stacy Lynch, Research Manager Readership Institute Presented to: The American Society of Newspaper Editors April 11, 2002
What We Already Know • Readership decline can be reversed • Content directly drives readership • Some content topics have more potential than others • There are specific things that editors can do to improve satisfaction
Impact Study’s 3 Cornerstones Readers/Consumers • Sampled 37,000 readers • Largest sample ever • Asked each 450 questions • Across every type of newspaper The Product The Organization • Surveyed 5,500 employees • Organizational culture • Measured mgt. practices • Measured the workforce • Content analyses: • 100 newspapers • Counted 75,000 stories • Analyzed 47,500 stories
Three Content Imperatives • Emphasize content that drives RBS • Stress a particular type of local news • “Easy to read” content
Content That Grows RBS Top 9 topics with greatest RBS potential • News about community & ordinary people • 2. Health, home, food, fashion & travel • Politics, government, international • 4. Natural disasters & accidents • 5. Movies, TV & weather • 6. Business and personal finance • 7. Science, technology, environment • 8. Police & crime • 9. Sports
Imperative #3 Stress a particular type oflocal news that increases RBS • Required Action: • Teach the staff about the type of local news that drives RBS
Edit To Drive RBS RBS is enhanced by: • News about the lives ofordinary people • News about community:“chicken dinner” news • Feature-style stories
Imperative #4 Create a much easier-to-read & more navigable newspaper • Required Actions: • Start with reporting & editing • Focus on these factors assoon as the story is assigned
‘Easy to Read’ Content • “Go-and-do” information • More stories about health,home, fashion, food • More feature-style stories • In-paper content promotion
Understanding “Satisfaction” • What does it mean when readers say that they’re “satisfied” with a story? • How do topic, news judgment and length affect the components of satisfaction? • Does the dynamic differ by gender, age, RBS, and education?
Rating the stories • Ordinary readers & non-readers asked to read 5 stories and rate them • Test stories created for topics with broad-based interest: Crime, Education, Politics, Health • Three different news events per topic • Three versions of each news event • Typical news events, typical quality • Consistent language, style • 801 participants read 4,505 stories
Story Ratings • 23 questions gauge “satisfaction” • Appeal, relevance, length, knowledge gain, objectivity, effort investment • Topic “importance to me” • Amount read • Personal opinion NOT comprehension
Total Satisfaction Appeal .510 Relevance .419 Readability .292 Information .272 Total StoryScore
Total Satisfaction Appeal Relevance Readability Information Total StoryScore Topic“Importance to Me”
What have we learned? • “Satisfaction” is complex • Some qualities matter more than others • These qualities make a difference: • Topic “Importance to Me” • Appeal • Relevance • Readability • Information
So, what can editors do to increase total satisfaction and its components?
Areas of Focus • Impact’s high satisfaction practices • Focused on a few elements: • Topic • News Judgment • Length • Did not focus on: • Design • Localness • Informational content
Pick the Right Stories • Impact demonstrated that there are “high potential topics” • Not all topic areas are created equal • Having a mix of different topics is important
57 53 43 44 Total Score by Topic
News Judgment Matters Topic Average
Consider Length • Is shorter always better?
Demographic Differences • Stories generally rated higher by: women, less educated, older people, higher RBS. • Demographic differences matter most for topic and news judgment. Examples: • Women rate health higher on all measures, but crime lower on appeal. • Lower education readers rate crime higher on all measures, but education lower on appeal. • Demographic differences in reaction to structure & length are minimal.
Key Questions for Editors • Do we know enough about our readers to pick the right kinds of stories? • Do front-line reporters and editors have that information? • How can we improve news judgment throughout the newsroom? • Are reporters and editors able to assess stories from a reader’s point of view?
Future Areas of Research • Other components writing • Language and writing style, anecdotal reporting, emphasis on “ordinary people” angles • Additional satisfaction components • Localness, accuracy/bias, emotion & excitement • News judgment • Timeliness, localness, personal relevance to readers
Thank You Visit www.readership.org for more information on readership & improving content