Facing the "New Audiences"
Every now and then, I meet people who ask me about The Kigalian. Sometimes they are young, some other times they are old, and they come from different backgrounds. When it’s a normal reader, they will simply ask me why we are “not consistent.” It takes time to realise they always mean to ask why we are not regular. And the issue here is frequency, to which I will always say: “Yes, we are irregular and we kind of like it that way — at least for now.” If they insist, I explain that we are currently a small group of writers and contributors who are busier thinking and experiencing (if not experimenting) without caring much about “pleasing” the reader. But I make it clear that, since this magazine launched in 2014, we have always been open to suggestion.
There is another type of people who offer views: those who are familiar with media and publishing, and they will tend to ask another more important, kind of deeper question — like “What’s your target audience?”
To these, I don’t like to say much, especially that these conversations happen very informally. The type of questions and engagements you encounter when you just bumped into each other at a café or walking on the street. But I am always eager to respond to questions. To the latter, I like to say: We write for the literate.
But what does this mean?
Unlike presently, with traditional media, audiences, especially the young, were absent in the news stream. Oftentimes, they have little reason to care about “big” news, matters of national policy or global issues, and topics around politics. But millennials are informed. In fact, they are very informed (thanks, mostly, to the rise of social media). It’s only natural that they form an opinion on most of the information they consume. They are exposed to all sorts of literature and contents that challenge their thinking every day. Even when it comes to things they don’t generally like to talk about — like politics or science for example — this new, kind of enlightened, audience has clues and interesting views to offer. However uninformed, there is always something.
This audience is literate and able to analyse information, at least to a certain degree.
So, to this kind of audience, you don’t just put ideas forward with the assumption that you know it all. The least you do is to offer a perspective. You don’t overlook their potential and think you know best. You learn to understand that people don’t always have equal access to information and the same accuracy. You learn to understand that not everyone consumes information passively.
In the end, this means that creating content for an audience that’s as engaged and informed about a variety of topics is a much bigger challenge for content creators who lag behind in understanding that there is a new tech-savvy and kind of enlightened audience armed with higher critical thinking, and there is nothing wrong about it — in fact, it also presents a big advantage to the growth of media ecosystems.
We love this fact and it is our belief, at The Kigalian, that the more audiences are aware of issues, and are actively involved in making sense of what the media presents, the better — not the opposite. We don’t see any danger in embracing key values that the challenge of “new audiences” offers: substance, truth and honesty, style, decency, and reason.
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