Independent Journalism Center's media partners within the “Audience Understanding and Digital Support” project – Locals, Observatorul de Nord, Wind, and Ştiri pozitive, together with international experts Natalia Belogrudova and Serge Sakharau, have shared their experience of cooperation for increasing their audience and income and improving their content in 2020. The event was held online on September 25.
During the months of May and June, Natalia Belogrudova and Serge Sakharau provided online consultations to the four media institutions, offering specific suggestions and recommendations for increasing the audience depending on the needs of each team. For two days, the experts virtually visited the partners’ media editorial boards and consulted them to help become as sustainable as possible and offer their readers diverse information in an attractive format.
“Today journalism is not merely about writing texts; journalism implies interacting with the public. The more tools we use to interact with the audience, the larger it becomes. The support provided within such projects has to be regarded as an opportunity to change something in your editorial boards, to make experiments, and therefore, to add value to the team. The partners we have worked with have different audience they aim for and different goals. During the consultations I have tried to show them where they could make some changes so that the audience would like them more and become more loyal”, Natalia Belogrudova from St. Petersburg affirms.
For Serge Sakharau, the founder and editor-in-chief of CityDog.by published in Minsk, Belarus, 2020 is the year when he discovered Moldova. “As an expert, I find it very important not only to assist and inspire the partners I work with, but also to stay inspired by them. During these consultations and virtual meetings, I was very inspired and pleasantly surprised by all the teams I have had a chance to cooperate with, their enthusiasm, and desire to improve themselves. My part of consulting referred to monetization and content, issues which, in my opinion, complement each other and are interrelated. I am glad that I managed to offer them suggestions which later helped increase their audience”, Serge Sakharau mentions.
Ana Dubeli, Locals.md portal director, claims that the experts have helped the Locals team to reconsider their audience, to constantly ask themselves where they are and what goals they pursue. “You cannot write about everything and everyone. It is crucial to have a goal and a key point to aim for. We have also realized that it is not important to bring all the readers to the website, whereas developing various projects for target audiences on various platforms is much more important. We have to leave our followers where they find it more comfortable to read”, Ana Dubeli concludes.
For Observatorul de Nord team, this project was a reason to go beyond their daily routine and discover new formats of interaction with the public. “Although we have a relevant experience in the Moldovan media market, we have reached the stage when we need to adapt to the new realities, learn and develop new ways for reaching our readers”, Elena Cobasneanu says.
Elena Cernicova, Wind.md portal director (this media institution was founded in late 2019), claims that 2020 has been a very important year for her institution. “The support provided within the project has helped us both understand who our readers are and lay the foundation for a sustainable development of the Wind portal. We write about women and persons who love and appreciate Moldova. The fact that we have become more prominent on the media market allows establishing new partnerships, and it makes us confident that our project is viable, in spite of the fact that it is at the very beginning of the road”, Elena Cernicova says.
Ştiri pozitive portal has managed to diversify its audience this year by creating a new column titled “Making Passion a Business”. “This project has given us an opportunity to consider and reconsider the things we do, the public we do it for and, most importantly, whether it is worth continuing”, Igor Guzun, the founder of Ştiri pozitive portal, says.
Although 2020 is a rather challenging year, Sasha Skotarenko, Internews representative, expresses hope that the financial support and consultations provided by the experts within the project have helped the media partners overcome the difficulties easier. “We are glad that each of you has managed to find meaning in whatever you do, and our ideas and suggestions for maximizing the audience have reached fertile ground”, Sasha Skotarenko concludes.
In 2020, the four media institutions have received grants of 5000 Euros each to implement their initiatives for increasing their audience and income.
The “Audience Understanding and Digital Support” project is implemented by the IJC with the support of Internews and funded by Sweden. The project aims to contribute to improving the content quality and financial sustainability of media institutions by a better understanding of the needs of the public.