|Newsletter No 1
||28 September 2005
||Readership & Circulation:
Strategies for Attracting Young Readers
“It is time for
newspaper professionals to stop being defensive about their medium.”
This was the underlying message from the 6th World Young Reader
Conference, which challenged the contention that children don’t read
and showed what the world’s most innovative newspapers are doing to
capture their loyalty. Over three hundred participants from 66
countries attended the event, held in Buenos Aires from 18 to 21
The conference provided dozens of examples of what newspapers are doing
to capture the young, and challenged the conventional wisdom that young
people are exclusively loyal to electronic media. Select conference
summaries are below.
Marcelo Rech, Zero Hora: “Win back young readers in a multi-media world”
"No more excuses about the vehicle through which we have chosen to make our living," said Marcelo Rech, editor of the Zero Hora
newspaper in southern Brazil. "The problem is not the newspaper as a
medium -- it’s in our heads. We need to constantly innovate and at
times produce a true revolution in our products rather than be content
with mere survival."
Forty-two percent of Zero Hora’s readers are between 10 and 29
years old. One-third of its 190 journalists are under 30 years old.
Nineteen journalism students fulfil support functions in the newsroom
and "are a permanent focus group to challenge us," said Mr Rech.
The newspaper also publishes a weekly youth supplement called
“Petrola”, which is printed in colour. Topics of the supplement include
behaviour, whose music, television, cinema and sports.
Petrola readers ranged between the ages of 13 and 19. A Reader’s
Council made up of 6 elected students attends meetings along with other
Petrola journalists to critique and suggest articles. The journalists
visit schools every week to get feedback from students themselves on
how to improve the supplement. The supplement enjoys a good readership
response; for example, 27 dogs were adopted after a story appeared
about a girl who had 87 dogs she needed help caring for. The project is
also interactive in that it allows young people to click and receive
tickets for movies, theatre and cultural events. They can also access
video clips from bands, short feature movies songs of the artists
interviewed and movie trailers.
“Supplements don’t work”
"We have to move away from special supplements, sections, educational
inserts for the young, and to get our existing newspapers to be more
youthful newspapers," says Juan Senor, director of the Innovation
International Media Consulting Group in England, which recently
released a report about the most creative ways of attracting young
APN: Is it true that your report concludes that newspapers,
which use supplements for young readers, are getting it wrong in their
attempt to capture this group?
Juan Senor: Yes. Supplements for young readers have not worked. There is no evidence of this.
APN: So how should newspapers attract young readers if supplements are a waste of time and effort?
Juan Senor: Instead of making supplements for young readers,
newspapers should be made more youthful. Every page of the newspaper
should take care of the interest of young readers.
APN: I imagine newspapers that do decide to become more youthful, as your report recommends, will lose some adult or old readers.
Juan Senor: It’s worth the effort, because the number of young
readers the newspaper will gain will more than make up for the old
readers the newspaper will lose.
APN: What does this mean for a newspaper which operates in a
country where adults are the ones who buy newspapers because they have
the purchasing power?
Juan Senor: Young readers also have purchasing power. They buy
mobile phones and other consumables. Newspapers are generally not very
APN: Another speaker, Francois Dufour, who spoke on how
newspapers can appeal to 10 year olds, said it pays to separate
readership to enable the newspaper to serve its readership better. How
do you respond to this?
Juan Senor: If the publication that targets young readers is not
inserted in a main newspaper then you are likely to get good results.
Publications for young readers that are independent, work.
Suggestions from Senor on how to make “youthful newspapers”:
- Content comes first, design comes second
- Show the reader in the newspaper every day
- New, quick read formats are a must
- Science and technology are hot topics
- Approach soft news as hard news
- Integrate your off- and on-line newsrooms
- Expand opinion pages for the young
- Promote print on-line
- Look and learn from newspapers in cities with lots of young people
- Spend money wisely
- Don't be pessimistic -- brand and content are the future
Ricardo Kirschbaum, Clarin: “Young people do read!”
The conventional wisdom is that young people don’t read. "This is
false," said Ricardo Kirschbaum, the chief editor of Argentina’s Clarin
daily. "They don’t read as we did when we were young, but they do read.
The problem is, there is not the emotional connection that was
developed in our generation," says Mr Kirschbaum. "They didn't grow up
with newspapers. This means that young readers act indifferently when
it comes to reading development. They are much better trained at using
other platforms and not the paper platform."
At Clarin, the young reader strategy involves developing this
reading habit, starting with a pre-school magazine for four-year-old
children. From there, the newspaper have developed a wide variety
of products, both within the paper and outside, to entice young
people to develop the reading habit. And not just young people -- the
Clarin strategy is a life-cycle strategy, designed to appeal to readers
throughout their lives, says Mr Kirschbaum.
Thirty Great Ideas in Thirty Minutes:
At the close of the conference, a panel of experts from around the
world gave a 30-minute presentation of 30 quick and easy ideas to
attract young reader ideas from every continent. Among them:
- The "Adopt a Student" programme of the New Straits Times,
Malaysia, in which individuals and companies were invited to sponsor
copies of the newspaper to schools, resulting in 8,000 additional
- The “Right on” Comic Series, launched by the Sunday Times, South Africa, conveys a message of national importance. Each week, 80,000 copies are sent to over 3,000 schools.
- The “Design and Ad” initiative in Uganda encourages primary
school children to design adverts for different companies. Key sponsors
include Shell, Colgate, Herbal and Bata shoes. Launched in December
2003 the initiative has received good feedback and is set to become an
- Current events quizzes in Fairfax New Zealand newspapers in
which 109,000 students took part. Sales increased 11 percent in 2004.
- The “KidsInk” supplement to Cox Ohio Publishing newspapers in
the United States, which promoted newspapers as a source of information
through last year’s Presidential elections. Sales increased from 44,000
to 72,000 per week.
- The “Wild Mouse” web initiative of La Prensa Grafica in
El Salvador which provides information about nightlife, music, sports
and daily news to 15 to 25year olds and resulted in a 10 percent
increase in website visitors.
- The “Pass PLE “ supplement, launched by the Uganda-based New Vision
newspaper, is a four-page weekly educational supplement that targets 10
to 14 year olds. Launched in July 2005, the supplement is prepared by
teachers and supports the Uganda government universal primary education
scheme. The supplement has already resulted in an increase of 5,000
copies per week and a increase of 16 per cent in newspaper sales.
- The monthly Fresh publication of the Sunday Herald in
Scotland, which provides a platform for young readers within the paper
and reaches 86 percent of all secondary schools in Scotland.
- The hiring of teenage journalists to cover youth news for the Shepparton News daily in Australia. The percentage of teenage readers
in overall readership went from 3 to 7 percent last year.
- “Spectator for Schools” in the United Kingdom, launched just
one month ago, in which readers are encouraged to fund subscriptions
for schools. Four hundred have been funded so far.
For more summaries from the World Young Reader Conference visit: www.wan-press.org/nie/articles.php?id=499