“You’re doing a great job but you need to be bigger and better” is the headline I would choose if I had to summarise the feedback from our readers’ survey, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.
But before I go any further I want to thank you all so much for responding to our survey. We had 285 responses which is fantastic. And on the whole they validated our work and were extremely motivating for us. They also prove that we are on the right track and are in tune with our audience.
The feedback was also genuinely constructive in its criticism and has given us so many ideas about how to move forward.
Here is a summary of the results:
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT 5PILLARS?
Alhamdulilah, there was lots of praise for the two editors Roshan Muhammed Salih and Dilly Hussain.
There was also lots of praise for the podcasts – Blood Brothers and The Big Picture.
Recurring descriptions of 5Pillars included: honest, brave, grassroots, committed to Islam, unapologetic, confident, uncompromising, full of integrity, fearless, ethical.
Many also said we had high journalistic standards.
“They are the voice for oppressed Muslims”
“Informative, accurate and operates with integrity which is rare in so called journalism these days”
“Speaking truth to power and they have an authenticity others lack”
“It’s independent, it’s Islamic, it’s principled, it’s one of it’s kind, it’s trustworthy”
Roshan Muhammed Salih: Alhamdulilah, it’s so nice and motivating to hear so many words of praise for our work. We think this proves we are on the right track and are in tune with our audience.
WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT 5PILLARS?
Many respondents said:
We should be producing more content and especially more original content.
We don’t have any staff and lack reporters on the ground.
We are not big enough or well-known enough.
Our podcasts are inconsistent and don’t appear regularly enough.
More investigations are needed.
There aren’t enough positive stories.
There are too many trolls in the comment sections.
“It’s a small organisation so it can only do a few stories and focus on a few issues in comparison to other alternative media platforms. But funding is outside their control.”
“Love the angles you give but you need more reporters with such angles to give you a broader range of viewers – just my humble opinion.”
“Wish you published more content. Articles, videos, interviews, etc. May Allah grant you tawfiq to become a full time, high output news company”
RMS: We agree with most of the criticisms that were made and we are putting in plans to expand our staff so that we can cover more stories as soon as possible, insha’ Allah.
HOW CAN WE IMPROVE?
Make more mainstream TV appearances.
Empower Muslims more rather than just focussing on victimhood.
Reader feedback page.
“Expand into more languages”
“I understand the importance of Muslim media and do donate regularly but many people don’t unfortunately. Perhaps a premium option may help entice people.”
“Cover more issues locally and internationally regularly.”
“Widen the perspectives of your pool of contributors and fields of inquiry – not just the hot topic activism of a moment but nuanced articles across Muslim life – politics to art, fiqh to civic engagement approaches.”
“Hire more journalists to cover stories on the ground.”
RMS: We are always thinking about growth but want to make sure our growth is sustainable and that we do not compromise any of our core principles while doing it – such as our independence.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE APP?
The app got very mixed reviews. Lots said it was basic or average and a few said it was really good.
Lots of people said they didn’t know it existed
RMS: For the moment it is not a priority for us to upgrade the app, but we do need to advertise it more because so many of our readers are not taking advantage of it.
The newsletter had excellent reviews. People really like it.
However, again lots said they didn’t know it existed. Although fewer than with the app.
RMS: We are proud of our newsletter and believe it is an excellent summary of the week’s Muslim highlights. But again, not enough people know about it so we need to advertise it more.
41% said they would pay and 59% said they wouldn’t.
RMS: For the moment we are committed to keeping 5Pillars as an open platform. However, as social media companies continue to censor alternative news sites like ours, it may be necessary to introduce a partial paywall sometime in the future so that we can continue to effectively monetise the site.
RMS: A high rating which we are pleased with, and it would have been even higher had we not received a batch of replies from clear haters!
Most said we were better and more hard-hitting than the opposition. And our clear ideology was our USP.
However, some said it was obvious that Middle East Eye, Middle East Monitor and Islam Channel had more resources than us and therefore could do more coverage.
RMS: We believe we are seriously punching above our weight. Our competitors are all much better funded than us yet we continue to match them or better them. However, serious editorial growth will only come with serious financial growth.