Clickbait VS Mandate: How Public Service Broadcasters Balance Integrity and Page Views

“There’s a lot of competition. A lot of private broadcasters, private outlets would prefer that we just went away, that we would not compete on the web. Because we ‘re taking away page views from them and we are subsidized,” Alison Broddle describes situation in media market. She works for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Question whether to go for great page views or publish serious, profound material is every news broadcaster’s daily struggle. It’s a thin line to keep these two in balance. Mediums have not only to produce relevant content, but also run business on some level. Public service broadcasters rely on taxes. But that doesn’t mean they can lean back and relax. Broddle gave a presentation about her experience working for CBC. Over 25 years of experience in media field has given Canadian journalist an opinion about dealing with problems like these.

Broddle doesn’t agree with statement that public broadcast media should eliminate all entertaining content: “I think it’s wrong. What we do today is much more nuanced and complicated.” She believes that page views are needed to stay relevant. “That’s our mandate to speak to our country and reach as many Canadians as we can reach,” she adds. Journalist believes that whilst integrity and distinctiveness is needed, page views are relevant. Without good ratings medium wouldn’t receive political nor public support.

Reuters Institute Digital Report 2015 results were presented during presentation. It showed that while most news sources are losing their significance, social media is gaining it. Especially it applies to younger audience. 57% respondents aged between 18 and 34 said social media was their main news source. “Legacy broadcasters, particularly large public broadcasters, are really having a difficult time making that turn, making the switch into becoming evolved digital organization,” describes Broddle.

It’s easy to make mistakes, when trying to reach more users in digital space. CBC journalist talks about misleading headlines and shallow content that can destroy people’s trust in medium whilst gaining more page views. “Instead of asking if the public is interested in content, we should be asking is this the public interest we are producing,” believes Broddle.

Social media is thriving worldwide. “Facebook is our new publishing partner. In Northern America about 40% people get some of their news from Facebook. So, when Facebook is making the rules, we need to follow them,” admits journalist. She explains that this social medium can efficiently promote news stories; and media is benefiting from it. “It actually builds the brand and makes people interested in other stories that we do. The problem is that Facebook is a bit like crack, cocaine. You get addicted to it. And that makes you do things that maybe you shouldn’t do,” Broddle says. She adds that all mediums are dealing with same problem today.

Anna Udre