Define Your Media Audiences
We can most effectively focus our media outreach by identifying those media outlets which most widely reach the general public. In other words, we need to pose the question, “Where do most people get their news?” Secondly, we need to focus our efforts on being featured in those media outlets that already reach out to those readers, viewers, and listeners we’ve defined as being part of our targeted audiences.
Television is America’s primary source of news and information. Public opinion polls show that more than 69% of Americans identify television as their main source of news and 53% consider television to be the most believable and credible news source. More than 92 million US households or 98% of all homes own television sets (more homes than have indoor plumbing or even telephones). Between the ages of 2 and 65, the average person will watch nine full years of television.
Radio is cited as a news source by 14% percent of Americans, according to the same poll. There are approximately 533 million radio sets in the U.S.; 74% are in homes and 26% are outside the home, predominantly in cars. The radio industry is diversified and targets audiences very specifically according to music tastes and creates programming accordingly. A majority of local radio stations have regular news segments as well as talk radio programming throughout the day. Radio stations can be useful media outlets as they respond quickly to emerging local or national issues or trends.
Newspapers are increasingly becoming “the media of elites.” According to the same poll, 37% of Americans cite this as another source of their news. Approximately fifteen hundred daily newspapers are published in the U.S., with a total circulation of 56.9 million readers. Although increased competition, particularly from television, has eroded some of newspapers’ influence, they remain a powerful force in the mass media. Newspapers are important targets for reaching public opinion leaders who are seeking in-depth coverage of issues and trends. They are also the most local of media outlets. Although more than half of newspapers are owned by large corporations headquartered outside their circulation area, coverage of local events is usually the focus of local newspapers.
Magazines target very specific readerships. Only a few are geared for a general audience; more typically, magazines target a specific group of people or focuses on a single interest or hobby. The same poll revealed that only 5% of Americans rely on magazines as a source for the latest news and information. However, magazines and newsletters that target members of the medical community, patients or family members of patients, policymakers, law enforcement communities and social justice activists can be extremely effective targets.
Web-publications more and more influence the way news is delivered. For example, newspaper articles and television and radio broadcasts are often subsequently or simultaneously posted on that media outlet’s Web site. In addition, there are many entirely Web based publications which are interested in covering issues considered too controversial by more mainstream media. Clearly, this kind of “echoing” trend in the media and independent media offers even more opportunities to educate the public and policymakers about our issues. Media outlets will continue to change in the coming years. Dramatic changes will occur in journalism as technologies merge TV transmissions, phone systems, and personal computing into one system. We will need to re-evaluate its approach to targeting both on-line and off-line media outlet as these changes occur.
Blogs, derived from “web log”, are user-generated website where entries are made in journal style. Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. As of late, blogs have been responsible for shaping what news gets covered by other media outlets and offer a choir of commentary.