In the digital age, journalism based on the written word is more a two-way conversation than a one-way lecture. The rise of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, coming so soon after the emergence of email, has provided readers with endless avenues to participate actively in the journalism they consume.
Editors used to refer to their postbag when they wanted to give a sense of being sensitive to their readership’s concerns. These days, the feedback is infinitely more vast and varied. Indeed, it goes beyond mere feedback: readers can react to what they read, share and spread it, and really engage with the journalists who produce it. This in turn helps to shape the editorial direction we take. Within certain limits, we want to give you more of what you want, and less of what you don’t want.
The data and information you now give us is, of course, invaluable. That is why, from next week, we hope to take our relationship with you to a deeper and more informed level, by launching a sort of readers’ panel called indyViews. This will allow you to tell us, in a very methodical and precise fashion, what we’re getting wrong (and, I hope, what we’re occasionally getting right).
For instance, which columnists do you love, and which ones can’t you stand? Have you seen a front-page picture that was hopelessly misjudged? Was there an editorial which you thought sloppy, unconsidered, or downright barbaric? Have we got the right gender balance in our coverage? Which unreported scandal would you like us to look into? What conflicts should we send someone to? And should the Editor stop writing such pious nonsense on Saturdays?
Answers to such questions go through my mind when I see the paper each morning. I’m lucky enough to be in a position to do something about them. Now you can be too.
Adam Joseph, our brilliant Strategic Insights Manager, is responsible for collating all your feedback. He has constructed a website called indyviews.org – please note the .org rather than .com or .co.uk – where you can sign up to be on our readers’ panel, whether for this paper or our sister titles, i and the Independent on Sunday. In return for completing occasional surveys at your convenience, you’ll be eligible for cash credits to a PayPal account.
Dare I say it, I know from not just my postbag but my Twitter account and email inbox that many of you feel very strongly about our work, for good and for bad, but feel that your voice is rarely heard. Well, now it can be. Please do get involved, and help to shape the editorial future of your newspaper. Thank you for all your support and participation, and have a great weekend.