Reader Survey: Who The Hell Reads New Matilda?


New Matilda exists because its audience chose to fund it. Did you? You’re reading this right now and you may even leave a comment or join a conversation. But why? What motivates you to participate in online news sites and New Matilda in particular?

This survey on your use of New Matilda is part of a larger research project investigating the participation on a number of Australian and US news sites. The study will be used to develop a greater understanding of what motivates users to participate in online news sites and also help determine user perception of common engagement techniques. It is particularly focused on determining why it is that independent journalism sites are leading the participatory journalism model.

Initial results show that user comments and discussion are a major factor for regular visits to a site. They also show that while everyone may not leave a comment or join a discussion, they do like to read these threads.

"Embrace your audience". This is the catch phrase of the digital news media environment. But we need to understand why are they engaging and what is it about particular sites that foster engagement.

Journalists and media organisations are told they must treat their audience as partners if they are to remain relevant and continue to provide the facility for advertisers to reach consumers. Journalism’s "perfect storm", as it has been termed, has resulted in the loss of thousands of journalism jobs and news media publications and programs in Australia and globally. Vast changes in technology, in particular the proliferation of new content delivery platforms, have left a gapping hole in the revenue model of traditional journalism. News media organisations know they must embrace the online medium, but they are still struggling to find an online model that replicates traditional media advertising revenue.

The solution is simple: if the news media is to compete in an environment where the engagement principles of Facebook and YouTube are considered the norm, then they must bring users into the newsroom fold. As a result, there has been a proliferation of news sites offering users the ability to interact with stories, make comments, join discussions and even generate their own content. In some cases it is a superficial attempt with an obligatory "Your Say" section, in others new and innovative ways of engaging the audience in the news production process are emerging. But just what does the audience think of these participation strategies? The focus of research in this field has traditionally been on quantitative data — the number of clicks — but few studies have actually asked the audience what it thinks.

It is not enough to incorporate user participation into the news media and then rely on hits as a measure of success. We need to understand the motivations of users. Why are they engaging? And in particular, what is it about niche and independent sites that is leading the participatory journalism model?

This is important information for the journalism industry and will help form a clearer picture of the future of journalism. So please take the time to complete a survey about participation elements on New Matilda.

Click here to take the survey 

The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete.

Read more information for participants here.


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New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.