First obstacles: How to operationalise a relationship?

What is a relationship and how can you measure it? This is a central question we ran into when thinking about how we can build a relationship between a reader and a newspaper that mainly happens online. So we set off to define what a sustainable relationship can be, how we can define it, which elements constitute it and how we can think of it that allows us to measure it.

Our first starting point in order to find an answer to this question, was the online dictionary Merriam Webster, in which it says:

the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other

Considering this rather broad definition, we tried to analyse what elements could characterize a relationship between an online newspaper and an online audience in terms of the way they communicate with each other. We thereby only took into account elements that can be measured, thus operationalised. We moreover took into account all elements that newspapers use to engage with their online audience, not only the ones the PG applies. We created a list of elements that build up a relationship, sorting them from the weakest element to the strongest in terms of how valuable they are for an online medium.


We identified these elements in a field research, investigating strategies online media follow in order to build a relationship with their audience. Therefore, these elements may not be complete and moreover are subject to change, since they underlie technical developments.

All of these elements however can be measured, when applying statistical analysis to the respective website of the online medium which allows us to research them. Breaking down abstract terms into the different body parts that constitute it really helps to better understand what it means for a specific project.