On Monday 21 March, Maike Olij and Paul Hek, both audience research specialists at NOS, facilitated the first of a new Eurovision Academy Master Class on “Data analytics need audience research”. This new course, which was part of the EBU Big Data Week, continued the work done by Maike and Justin Kings in their Master class on What news for what audiences back in 2013 and 2014.
16 media analysts and researchers, but also a metadata specialist, a concept developer and an interaction designer from 9 Members attended the Master Class. All were eager to gain a better understanding of how to combine qualitative and quantitative research to offer audiences distinctive news that is aligned with the public service values of their media organizations.
Both trainers insisted first on the limitations and complexity of data: what are you measuring exactly? Is data representative? Do we really get the insights we need?
For data to be appropriately used, it is crucial to focus on individual users and their specific needs in the course of the day. This led to a presentation of the News need model developed by NOS a few years ago: what kinds of news do people need and when? What news product(s) can you develop to meet these needs?
The needs of audiences have to be aligned with the goals of your news organization. As shown by Klara Vatn from NRK and Naja Nielsen from DR, it is crucial for a news organization to (re)define its objectives. Do you “simply” want to increase your audience share or are you also aiming at social cohesion like at DR?
This led to a brainstorming session about the ideal research team and how it is connected to the newsroom and the journalists. Participants acknowledged the need to have multidisciplinary teams – possibly integrating an anthropologist and a few “techies” – as well as a process to measure the impact of research. Increasingly, journalists should also become their own researchers, or at least, have a good understanding of their newsroom’s objectives, formats and audience needs when they produce stories.
During the final hours of the Master Class, participants applied the new perspectives and concepts to a practical exercise: based on fictional news formats, they had to develop the perfect formula to measure success, a difficult task that highlighted the need to focus on specific news formats, to combine qualitative with quantitative methods and have research tightly intertwined with the daily work of the newsroom.