Dmitry Shishkin: “News consumers want much more than information”

As part of the Cultural Change Ignition Program for Latin American News Publishers, organized by WAN-IFRA and the Facebook Journalism Project, consultant and former editor of BBC World explains why and how the media should understand and satisfy their audience needs.

by Daniela Pena | February 26, 2021


As digital editor of the BBC World Service, Dmitry Shishkin accompanied the research and implementation of the user needs model. Now, in his role as consultant, he teaches the model and how to apply it in newsrooms. Shishkin led one of the sessions in the Cultural Change Ignition Program that WAN-lFRA and the Facebook Journalism Project held from October 2020 to January 2021, with participation by 30 executives from 15 media outlets in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. This article provides a preview of the full report on the sessions that will be publishing soon.

From 2016 to 2018, the BBC World Service asked its users what they want from news, why they consume news, and what the news means to them. Based on the results, BBC made changes to product development and proved that the number of users and their engagement increase when the news agenda is covered differently when newsrooms deliver products based on audience needs.


What do users want from news?

BBC processed the users´ answers and found that the needs of persons that consume news can be grouped into six categories.

📣 Update me.

Users of news want to know what is happening in their community, their country, and the world. This need is widely met by the media. Users find information easily and abundantly.

🌟 Keep me on trend.

Knowing the trends, what other people are discussing in the media, is also a key audience need.

🔦 Give me perspective.

When addressing controversial topics, opinion pieces or alternative analyses and even counterpoints to the topic allow users to form their own points of view.

💡 Educate me.

The media take knowledge for granted, and this alienates them from their audiences. People fear engaging with the media because they may not understand some words or the specific story´s background. Thus, pieces that clearly explain a topic generate highly loyal audiences.

😄 Divert me.

People get tired of hearing bad news all the time. Therefore, a balanced menu is essential, adding humor and entertainment.

💗 Inspire me.

Stories that appeal to the heart, stories of people doing incredible things, stories of persons persevering despite their suffering. These are the stories that touch our audiences, that move them.


“There´s a mismatch between what the audience wants from digital (information, yes, but also understanding, inspiration, usefulness, diversion) and what the media delivers,” Shiskin says. The user needs model orients newsrooms to produce content with a different focus

WAN-IFRA will soon be publishing a special report with more data on the presentations by Dmitry Shishkin and all the other speakers in the Cultural Change Ignition Program.

Author: Andrea Shulte

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