As newspaper readership dwindles, publishers are trying all sorts of things to attract young — and potentially lifelong — readers. Not only do they need to replace the old with the young to keep up readership numbers, the youth can help bring in ad dollars that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
A new Newspaper Association of America Foundation study by MORI Research, “Lifelong Readers: The Role of Youth Content,” shows that running teen-oriented content can help keep young people interested in reading their local paper. The survey of 1,600 18-24 year-olds found that “75 percent of respondents who said they read newspaper content aimed at teens when they were 13 to 17 years old now read their local paper at least once a week, compared with 44 percent of those who said they did not read teen content.”
Some other stats:
At least in the press release, a distinction between print and online newspaper reading isn’t made. However, there’s no doubt that if they’re reading news, many young people are doing it on the Web. Obviously, it makes sense for newspaper publishers to not only present teen-centric material, but to highlight it online, perhaps in a special section featuring forums or social networking tools.
My hometown paper, The Jersey Journal, includes a column called “Teen Scene” written by teens (high school or college students). I browsed the paper’s corresponding site, NJ.com for the column, but rather than locating a Teen Scene section or one dedicated to youth-oriented content and features, I had to conduct a general site search. Surprisingly, a search on keyword “teen” brought up the most recent column early on in the results. (I expected to get a lot of links to crime beat headlines like “Teen Arrested with Gun, Coke” or “Teenage Wolf Pack Attacks Cop” — a lot of the kids in J.C. ain’t exactly tame.)
Anyway, it’s clear that a few leaders in the online newspaper field are trying to appeal to younger readers, but the college-through-early-30s set seems to be the main target audience. This study indicates that crafting content for an even younger crowd might not be such a bad idea.
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