I think, perhaps, that much of this sense of entitlement is rooted in
the fact that magazine or newspaper packages conceal the popularity of
each item within – people have to buy the whole package, and it’s hard
to determine what they read and what they don’t. (Market research is
great for telling you what people think they should like, not what they
And so we merrily assume, on a subconscious level at least, that our
audience is actually a big chunk of the thousands of readers who pick
up our titles. (Although some, as Angus pointed out,
might assume that people are reading everybody else’s stuff. And as a journalist who has occasionally lacked self-confidence, I can identify with that.) This assumption is challenged by the web, which is one reason some
journalists get very, very twitchy indeed when you start talking about
page impressions – a point Peter Houston made in this morning’s discussion.
This, though, is an inevitable consequence of the atomisation of
content that the web brings. We might still be building websites, but
people interact with those sites one page at a time. That’s the nature
of the web – any page can link to any page, and people’s reliance on
search for navigation means that the home pages we build and the
navigation structures we try to impose on our sites are, to say the
Each piece of content on the web lives on its own, freed from the
constraints of the “package”. And that can be frightening and
liberating. And we need to figure out ways of building audiences one page at a time.
(This has turned into quite a long post, given that had “didn’t have much to add”, hasn’t it?)
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