The influence of narrowcasting and blogging in the “new media”

Research by Matthew Mendelsohn and Richard Nadeau indicate that audiences react differently to broadcast news than they do to similar news that is narrowcast. In fact, the title of the research best describes this, “The magnification and minimization of social cleavages by the broadcast and narrowcast news media.” There is an old adage that goes, “know thy audience.” The study merely supports that if you narrow your audience and then compose your report to that audience profile, the results will be much more active and personalized.

In this response, I will provide definitions for broadcasting and narrowcasting, and then I will discuss what this means through the lens of communication channels currently offered through the World Wide Web—specifically weblogs and online discussion forums. To broadcast information is to spread it widely and publicly, and, as a verb, the word if often used in association with television and radio. When a distributor narrowcasts, the aim is to “direct targeted messages at segmented audiences.” Narrowcasting, like broadcasting has its roots in television and radio and is often linked to a sales market.

According to the three blogging articles I read today, weblog audiences self select their news and opinions. Instead of relying on station managers, programmers, and news editors to decide message, weblog readers are can concern themselves with their own interest and values. There are six motivations for weblog audiences: “information seeking and media check, convenience, personal fulfillment, political surveillance, and expression and affiliation.” In fact, author Barbara Kaye even goes so far as to hypothesize that “increased dependence on blogs may also be attributed to a general distrust and dislike of traditional media.”

Traditional media is just beginning to catch up with the idea of interactive media. Broadcasting and narrowcasting are both one-sided communication devices. The sender (in this case newspapers and online news media) is disseminating information out to an audience. Aside from the occasional letter to the editor, there is no opportunity for the reader to respond, challenge, or mold the information that has been output. However, according to Jane B. Singer’s research, “online editors are increasingly accommodating the interactive, participatory nature of the medium, simultaneously redefining and reaffirming their own space within it.”

I agree with pieces of authors Menelsohn and Nadeau’s assumption that the future media environment will include more segmented audience. However, interactive media will encourage readers and audiences to better leverage the news that is useful and of interest to them. It is still unclear whether this feedback to the media outlets will take place in the active form of participating in weblogs and discussion forums, or whether built in widgets and web 2.0 functions will allow the audiences to communicate their interests and needs in a passive way. Perhaps the media (and marketers) will rely on both communication channels.


Mendelsohn, M., & Richard Nadeau. “The magnification and minimization of social cleavages by the broadcast and narrowcast news media.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research (1996): 374-390.

Broadcast. Dictionary.com. 16 June 2008. 16 June 2008 <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/broadcast&gt;.

Mendelsohn, M., & Richard Nadeau. “The magnification and minimization of social cleavages by the broadcast and narrowcast news media.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research (1996): 374-390.

Narrowcast. Dictionary.com. 16 June 2008. 16 June 2008 <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/narrowcast&gt;.

Kaye, Barbara K. “It’s a Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog World.” Atlantic Journal of Communication (2005): 73-95.

Kaye, Barbara K. “It’s a Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog World.” Atlantic Journal of Communication (2005): 76.

Singer, Jane B. “Stepping Back from the Gate: Online Newspaper Editors and the Co-Production of Content in Camaign 2004.” J&MC Quarterly Vol. 83, No. 2 (2006): 265-280.

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About themacdoodle

Communications Manager, Creative Strategist, Community Builder, & Possibility Agent
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