A central irony of the newsroom is that while many journalists’ decisions are made with readers in mind, the audiences for their work often remain unfocused, imagined abstractions, built on long-held assumptions, newsroom folklore, and imperfect inference.
This is not particular to journalism. Writing, like reading, is a solitary activity; unlike orators, writers are necessarily separated from their audiences. As a writer works, the decisions they make are based on many factors: their long-term memory, the conventions of their genre, and (conscious or not) an imagined perception of readers’ reactions. Success rests on how accurately they can anticipate how their work will resonate with these imagined audiences; the paradox being that at the time of writing those audiences do not yet exist.
Read the full article from CJR: The audience in the mind’s eye: how journalists imagine their readers