Perception of their Audiences: A study of ETV, Radio Fana and Sheger FM 102.1 Newsroom Journalists

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Addis Ababa University


In most newsrooms around the world journalists are often advised to have images of the people who constitute their target audiences and to write for the average viewer, listener or reader they perceive. In newsrooms where not much has been researched to know who the actual audiences are, such perceptions of the journalists set a chance to give some ideas of what journalists think of their audiences. Although, research on journalists' perceptions of their audiences is literally absent in Ethiopia, this study through qualitative in-depth assessment, has drawn some ideas of how journalists in ETV, Radio Fana and Sheger FM 102.1 newsrooms perceive their audiences. Being the immed iate gate keepers in the news production process, views from individual journali sts about their audiences certainly are not only interesting, but may be are also crucial in determining what news is eventually presented to the audiences. The findings show that journalists in ETV, Radio Fana and Sheger FM 102.1 newsrooms perceive their news audiences as wide ranging general audiences in the public which spans all ages and professions with varied interests, preferences, and behaviors towards the media. Accordingly, newsroom journalists from ETV perceive that their audiences are the general public who need development and change in line with nationally established policies, who should receive information on government economic, social and political ideologies and who should accept and participate in the ongoing developmc;nt and democratization process of the country. ETV newsroom journalists specifically perceive that most of their news audiences are matured adults who mainly want investigative news on wrong doings and hate ETV news on government political and development activities and are only fairly satisfied with ETV news. These journalists preconceive that considerable members of their audiences: hate their national media ETV and adore others' media like BBC and CNN; are suspicious about ETV news on government political and development activities; hastily label ETV as partial to the government; have low level of understanding to interpret news; ' are uninterested in ETV news; are biased and non critical about ETV news. The findings from Radio Fana newsroom journali sts, similarly, show that journalists perceive their audiences as a general public who need to receive information on social, economic and pol itical ideologies of the country and who are required to participate, with full knowledge, in the ongoing development and democratization processes of the country. The majority of Radio Fana news audiences are perceived as adults who are employees or farmers living in rural areas and small towns. Radio Fana newsroom journalists also preconceive that substantial members of their audiences: are only moderately satisfied; mainly want news on social, economic and political problems; do not like Fana news on government political and development activities and receive such news with suspicion; hate Fana news simply because they think that it is partial to the government; are uninterested, biased and ignorant about Radio Fana news. Journalists from Sheger FM 102. 1 newsroom, on the other hand, perceive that their news audiences are wide ranging general audiences living in Addis and its vicinity. Furthermore, these journalists perceive that their audiences are consumers of goods and services who need good moods and pleasure when they li sten to Sheger news. These journalists also think that the majority of their audiences: like negative news reports on government political and econom ic activities; mainly want news on soc ial and economic problems in the society; are more interested in news on consumer goods and services and are highly satisfied and interested in Sheger FM 102. I news. Another finding from thi s study is that journalists in ETV, Radio Fana and Sheger FM 102.1 newsrooms perceive their audiences as someone like themselves, and think that what interests them would interest the audience and what bores them would bore the audiences too. These journalists tend to act as audience representatives in their newsrooms. They also perceive their audiences as an extension of their own social contacts. They learn about their news audiences through personal contacts, friends, relatives, families and some feedback from audience members. So, they perceive their audiences as someone like in these groups and tend to consider the interests of these groups as the interests of the overall audiences.



ETV, Radio Fana, Sheger FM