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What Do Young Readers Want?

Poynter Online recently brought my attention to Readers Don’t Want Gimmicks, We Want News by Taylor Somerville, an article written by a young person on a panel recently exploring how to bring young people’s attention to reading newspapers.

Young newspaper readers are no different than older people who enjoy newspapers (aside from being better-looking). We are looking for an in-depth analysis of issues that blogs, TV and radio are incapable of providing. We are also the minority of the two youth groups. Young people who are not inclined to read newspapers – the majority – have unfortunately already chosen sides. Their teammates include lightweight print media that no medium predicated upon the word news could or should compete against…

…How does it appeal to young people? Aldam said it includes “celebrity and entertainment news.”

I’ll be honest. If I was in Aldam’s position, on most days I’d conclude the same thing about young people. I’m not naive. I’ve seen a myspace.com post before. The problem I have with this question of young people and newspapers is that those in decision-making positions keep hoping to attract young people who find newspapers dull, outdated and depressing. These same decisions only dilute the newspaper and push away young people who are inclined to read newspapers.

My generation is numb, desensitized and impatient. Bill Maher once quipped that sometime around 1980, ignorance became a virtue in America.

It’s true that there is more and more trash media available, but who is reading and watching? Older folks, not young. In general, I’ve found younger people to be eager to understand why and why not something is happening, though I’ve also met more than my share of youngsters caught up with dating and snowboarding and not the news.

Still, money is found in getting into young people’s wallets, so of course the newspaper industry is targetting them. Just like all the rest of big business.

I found Taylor Somerville’s answer to be really enlightening and the truth, if anyone is listening out there.

Real change will come when real investment is made in that primary word that your industry is based upon: news. With this investment, newspaper readers young and old will return.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen

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