4 thoughts on “Shifting Audiences, Dead Newspapers Change Transportation Engagement

  1. Have we figured out how to reach them yet. Participation declined in 2008 and 2009. Is that a symptom of the papers shuttering or the economy crashing? And has participation in those areas recovered since?

    • Good question. The paper’s author suggests that more research is needed to determine whether the engagement levels recover. I think from a public engagement standpoint that we need to be asking the same question, “where have the people gone?” If they are not reading the paper, they are gathering for community connections somewhere – or even MANY some wheres.

  2. Lloyd…. The decline in news is due more to the consolidation of news venues (print and broadcast) by fewer and larger corporate owners. I spent 22 yard as a broadcast journalist and most of the past 14 in public and media relations in both the public and private sector, so I’ve sen this from both sides of the microphones, cameras and notepads. I saw the devolution of the news business first-hand and it’s not over.

    What should give all of us pause is that we are now (as communication professionals) challenged by trying to not only get our messages heard, but heard and told accurately. Unfortunately, we are having to deal with far less experienced reporters and editors, or ones who are so overwhelmed by being overworked in shrinking newsrooms, that if our message gets told at all, it is told either incompletely or out of context. Witness the recent story about a young man being hailed as a “hero” for pushing his girlfriend off some railroad tracks and losing his own life in the process. Barely reported in the story was the fact that both teenagers were trespassing on a busy railroad, walking “in the gauge” of the tracks. It is a small example, but it is illustrative of how much of a job we face to educate “the new media” about transportation issues. And that doesn’t even cover the almost total lack of editorial checks and balances on so-called Internet media and bloggers.

    What that means is that it is now on us as communicators to make sure what we are putting out there is accurate, full-fledged and clear.

    • Well said, Stu. The number of transportation reporters in any medium is shrinking. I’ll add that even when there are transportation beat reporters covering a story, they sometimes are so busy that a news release is basically rewritten without any original reporting. That’s great if it is my release because I want my story told. But sometimes there are stories that deserve multiple perspectives and points of view. We are losing that kind of skeptical eye and balanced storytelling that journalists should be able to bring to a piece.

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