Before I let the students in my online reporting and editing classes touch any piece of technology or blurb their first blog post, I think it’s important to spend some time talking with them about the behaviors of the online news audience. The way people consume news and information online is fundamentally different than the way they consume it in other media, and it’s pointless to practice online journalism without understanding those habits.
This is not a lecture about how I wish the online news audience behaved. It is a lecture based on years of watching actual site usage at national news sites, watching focus groups, and reading industry surveys — primarily those done by Pew and collected in the annual State of the News Media reports.
This isn’t a lecture about how to change audience habits. It’s a lecture about riding a wave that is SO much bigger than journalism. (more…)