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Calling young readers Miscellaneous

Why aren’t young people reading newspapers? For as long as I can remember (my colleagues will laugh here, because I’m the baby of the group), that has been the big question facing the newspaper industry.

Newspaper executives have found a multitude of answers since then, discovering that young people have turned to other mediums to get their news and information: Internet news sites, magazines, blogs and podcasts.

Now the question looming over the industry has become this: how can newspapers adapt in order to appeal to young readers?

Most newspaper companies are turning toward the Internet. They are expanding their web presence to include up-to-the-minute news updates, blogs, podcasts and interactive chat sessions. Other newspapers have turned toward specialty niche publications targeting young people. Many, such as the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle are doing both, with www.democratandchronicle.com and Insider magazine.

But the D&C is looking to do more. This summer the newspaper approached University News about creating a specialty publication designed specifically for college students, produced specifically by college students.

The concept, at the time, involved a two-page “wrap” that would literally wrap the outside of the newspaper and would be distributed, free of charge, once a week on campus. While the publication would start at RIT, it would eventually expand to the other area colleges—in an effort to ultimately build a sense of community between college students in the area.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I haven’t seen such a thing on campus.” And you’re right. The project is still in the development phase. There are still some major questions about the project. Who will fund it? Who will produce it? How will the students be compensated?

But the two biggest questions looming over the project consist of its content and the demand for the product itself. If there are any students out there in the Tiger Beat blogosphere, I’m seeking your input!

Is there a need for such a publication? Would you read it? What should be in it?

Feel free to comment here or email me at jpfuns@rit.edu.

  1. Justin Thorp
    Oct 26

    I think young peoples' lack of interest in newspapers doesn't have as much to do with the medium. It has more to do with the general apathy you'll find. In my sociology class that I took my senior year at RIT, everyone seemed to find what was going on in the world pointless. We live in a world where it is all about the individual so it is less important to know about what is happening to your neighbor and the world around you.

  2. John Follaco
    Oct 27

    Justin, as a news junkie I find that hard to understand. However, as someone who is probably about your age, I definitely believe it. Do you think that attitude will change as students grow up, find a job, get married, but a house and start a family? I would imagine at that point, local/national/world issues would begin to be more important to that individual. Would you agree?

  3. Paul Stella
    Oct 31

    Justin's apathy argument has merit. Young people aren't reading newspapers (they didn't when I was among the "young people" in the 80s), but many don't appear to be reading blogs either. I was surprised to see how many of my PR students didn't even know about blogs. And yes, John, I do think the desire to become more plugged in with society comes along with age, but not always. I'm amazed by the amount of apathy that exists among my generation.

  4. Mike Saffran
    Nov 02

    Although I still look at a newspaper daily, I confess that on weekdays it’s typically a quick scan. But on weekends, I read it cover-to-cover—as much for relaxation and enjoyment as to get the news.

    In a recent Time magazine Q&A, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch provided an excellent reason for reading newspapers (and it’s one of my primary motivations):

    Time: What do you still get out of them that you can’t get from other media?

    Murdoch: If you pick up a good general newspaper, you read a lot of things you don’t expect to read, much of which are important and make life more interesting.

    Bob Schieffer, of CBS News, recently expressed similar sentiments:

    “The joy of reading a newspaper comes from finding information we weren’t looking for.”

    For me, that occurs all the time (especially with editorials and letters to the editor). The apathy described by Justin and Paul about some of their peers’ disinterest toward news in general—not only newspapers—is kind of sad, actually.

  5. John Follaco
    Nov 03

    Interesting thoughts, everyone. RIT's News Production Management class is teaming with the D&C's Custom Publications Department to create a new publication targeting young people. I'll write more on this topic as details are finalized, but it's an exciting venture that will take a completely unique approach on delivering information to young people. Stay tuned.

  6. Justin Thorp
    Nov 09

    If you want to understand how seriously my generation takes the news and what is happening, crack open RIT's very own Reporter. It is a good thermometer for how seriously (or not seriously) the RIT community cares about what actually happening in the community and the world.

    Check out what's popular on Digg.com (user-driven news) or MySpace. Paris Hilton's cell phone getting hacked and her explicit photos getting spread around the Internet is more news then an international crisis.

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