Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

A ninja has to focus her chakra April 4, 2008

Audience discovery is a part of what I have going on, too, and so I’ll be conducting some focus groups later this month. So I’m learning how to plan, execute and moderate focus groups. Mary Nesbitt (, a mover and shaker at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and its Media Management Center’s Readership Institute, was kind enough to FedEx me some textbook pages on the subject.

I found this point to be true far beyond focus groups: “… the discipline of listening and thinking simultaneously. It is not enough to be an empty vessel.”

Amen! And that doesn’t just apply to people. Traditional media have been unthinkingly using their Web sites as empty vessels, dumping grounds for anything and everything that didn’t fit in the newspaper and, perhaps worse, all the same ol’ same ol’ from the paper.

For a Web site to be successful at engaging its community, it has to have an intelligent audience strategy of its own (because its audience wants something different/more than a newspaper) and intelligent content decisions that point toward that strategy.

Does that include traditional reporting? Video? Audio? Slide shows and Flash? Probably, but don’t ask me. Go ask the audience.

Gazette Web guy Jason Kristufek has his finger on the proverbial pulse of Web 2.0 strategy. Check out his blog for insights: