NB: Stereotypes, generalisations and exaggerations follow
In the next week or so, those of us on Interactive Journalism MA at City University will be given access to run our own group website, #Interhacktives. This is a requirement for one of our course modules, Social Media and Community Engagement, however it is also a great opportunity to critically engage with digital journalism, analysing and writing about all things social media, community engagement and data driven journalism.
The question we have been asked to address before beginning our #interhacktive journey is to identify our audience.
How would we describe a ‘typical interhacktive’?
Without having access to any website analytics or metrics about our users that either a subscription or a detailed advertising model can provide us, this is not an easy task.
I may be slightly cheating with this approach, but I’ll take the risk. I think that potentially there does not have to be just the one archetypal interhacktive reader, but there could be two different types.
Type 1: The wannabe (inter)hack
The one is an aspiring digital journalist much like us, with an insatiable appetite for as many how-tos, listicles, previews and tutorials of any new interactive tools and general insights into the world of digital journalism as we can provide him with.
This type of interhacktive reader knows his Feedly from his Net Vibes – in fact he is probably writing a post on his blog about which is better to use. He has trouble seeing his URL bar on Chrome from all the browser extensions and add-ons he is experimenting with. He’s just calmed down after a long rant on how his mobile phone network carrier is STILL not compatible with IFTTT and he has to check weather for the day via his iphone weather app instead of receiving the daily forecast as an SMS just before he gets out of bed in the morning.
Interhacktives.com will certainly be on his RSS feed and he may even have the hashtag running on his Tweetdeck (other third party apps are available), looking to get the latest insights into all things interactive journalism, staying very much on top of the game.
Type 2: Out of touch, looking to catch up
The second type of interhacktive reader is a technology-fearing journalist who swears under his breath every time he hears someone utter the phrase “digital revolution”. He spends a considerable amount of time cursing Sir Tim Berners Lee for inventing the Internet, despite actually using it for almost everything he does. He calls Twitter “that Twitter” and thinks that Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are things you are likely to come across on sale at an RSPB-approved garden centre instead of the App store.
However, this reader is looking to get to grips with the new realities that the internet has brought about as publications are moving to a digital-first strategy with more online-only media organisations popping up. Deep down he does know that being “rubbish at technology” will no longer cut it and that his best option is to embrace his digital future, so is on the lookout to improve his technical abilities.
Interhacktives can be a good starting point for him to do so.
Our challenge is to first and foremost to attract more of either type of reader and to make sure we have enough varied content to keep both happy.