Friday, February 25, 2005

Bloggers as newspaper readers

I have been thinking about this post ever since Pejman mentioned it yesterday.

I have a very simple suggestion for mainstream media types who feel in any way threatened by bloggers: whenever you hear the word “blogger,” think: “reader.”

After all, bloggers who aren’t discussing your newspaper are irrelevant to you. And bloggers who are discussing your newspaper are simply part of your readership.
In other words, they’re your customers. And, while the customer may not always be right, the customer deserves to have his complaints heard.

The main difference between your readers who are bloggers and your other readers is that your blogging readers have a voice – one that you can’t entirely control. On an individual level, each voice is ridiculously small; for 99% of bloggers (including me), it can’t even arguably begin to compare to the power of the newspaper’s voice. Still, it’s more than we had before.

While the voices of the bloggers may tend to be more critical, they are also more engaged. For them, reading the newspaper and thinking about news are important pursuits. These are the people you should be listening to.

Once you realize that bloggers are your readers, it may help you be less dismissive of bloggers’ opinions.

After dealing with many thousands fo the public for my whole working life I have learned that when you can satisfy the most demanding and critical people, you can catch them all. People who are a thorn in your side are the ones who make you raise the bar for your own performance. The customer who complains about something is letting you in on something you may not have known. If you had known it, presumably it would not have been a problem because it would have been corrected.
And if the customer thinks it is a problem and you don't, you have a bigger problem than you think. And it ain't with the customer.

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