Letter from the executive director: What we learned from our reader survey

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We asked. You answered. What now?

Last month, more than 1,000 of you responded to our reader survey. That’s an awesome response — more than 40 percent higher than our last survey in 2014. Here are three big takeaways of what we learned:

  • Over 95 percent of you are very or fairly satisfied with Current. People in public media are so kind!
  • Most of you read Current online while at work (Please remember to thank your boss for including you in the company subscription.)
  • A third of respondents aren’t subscribing at all. This is a problem that we must address.

When it comes to topical interests, our readers are all over the map. Most respondents want us to cover audience research, local and national programming or initiatives, job changes and news about people in the field, and “How we did it” stories shared by innovators.

When we looked closely at interests based on respondents’ roles in public media, some interesting (but not entirely surprising) differences emerged. Senior executives want Current to report more often about CPB and revenue strategies; they look to Current for analysis and opinion from their peers. Mid-career and non-managerial staffers are interested in coverage of engagement strategies and inclusion and diversity in our industry.

When we asked, “What would make Current more valuable to you?” readers said more investigative reporting, data journalism and explainers. The Current team is working on this. This edition features our data journalism coverage of state funding of public media. It took months for our reporters and editors to complete that research. The content you want from us is resource-intensive and challenging to deliver. So before we undertake another deep dive, we’d like to know what you want Current to explore.

What would you like Current to investigate? What data about public media might Current compile and share with you? Perhaps, more importantly, what data might you be willing to share with us? Editors Karen Everhart and Mike Janssen are eager to hear from you.

If you have a question about public media or need an explainer, let us know through Currently Curious, our Hearken project, where your inquiries can become assignments for our reporters.

That brings me to another big takeaway from the survey. Many of you had never heard of our key initiatives, such as Currently Curious, Local That Works, virtual career fairs, the Public Media Honor Roll or the Made Possible By… podcast. That was disappointing. There was more awareness of our podcast The Pub and last year’s #IAmPublicMedia project, but even these highly visible initiatives were not widely recognized.

So we are asking ourselves some hard questions, too. How we can deepen our service, raise awareness of our efforts, and meet the essential information needs of our growing public media community? These are questions about content, marketing and revenue. Most of you told us you’d be willing to participate in future research. You’ll be hearing from us. And we hope to continue hearing from you.

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