Readership Down: Dumbing Down Speeds Media's Demise
I was flipping through New Jersey Business yesterday and found an article offering Internet marketing tips from a Web developer I’ve known for many years. Looking forward to reading some pearls of wisdom, I quickly grew frustrated that a guy I knew to be quite knowledgeable had obviously been asked to provide a basic overview of simple tips that would be useful to the uninitiated. It occurred to me that this exemplifies why print readership continues to plummet along with its ad revenues. When it comes to business owners and the Internet, very few people are still in the uninitiated camp and simply feeding dumbed-down versions of otherwise useful information nullifies any potential value. It becomes uninteresting and readers become less eager to open the magazine when the next issue arrives in the mail, convinced that nothing of value is inside.
This type of basic information is already available online, by email and by other e-vehicles for free. Nearly any business professional who is a member of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and therefore a New Jersey Business recipient already knows the basics of the Internet. They know about social media. They’re ready to read something with more depth and this author would've been able to provide it in clear terms that any business person could understand.
If print magazines, newspapers, and any publisher for that matter - print or online - want to be relevant, their editorial departments need to continuously provide useful information that actually helps their readers. Rather than dumbing down their information, I’d suggest they ramp it up with details and insights and challenge their readers to think, to learn and even to reflect or take action after finishing an article. That’s how a loyal readership is developed. And a loyal readership attracts ad revenue.