Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Features for Younger Readers

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Features for Younger Readers

Article excerpt

That's what syndicates feel they should provide, according to a poll released at Phoenix meeting

If Newspapers are to be as immortal as the phoenix, they need to continually renew themselves with young readers.

This was a major conclusion rising from the results of a survey announced at the recent Newspaper Features Council meeting in Phoenix, which shares a name with the mythical Egyptian bird.

The NFC poll asked syndicate executives what kind of material they could offer that would most help newspapers attract new readers. The top answer by far among the more than 40 respondents? Features aimed at young people.

Syndicates have actually launched quite a few youth-oriented features in recent years, but there seems to be a need for even more.

"There are so many activities other than newspaper reading to attract young people," said Universal Press Syndicate vice president/editorial director Lee Salem, who presented the survey results at the NFC meeting. "Many not only do not care to read newspapers, they do not care to read much of anything. They have been raised on a diet of tv, so why should they switch to newspapers now?

"But if anyone could help," Salem added, "maybe it's the syndicates ...."

The survey, which focused on syndicate executives' attitudes toward newspapers and newspaper editors, was conducted a year after the NFC had polled newspaper editors about syndicates (E&P, Oct. 12, 1991). Many of the 1991 poll respondents also stressed the importance of reaching younger readers.

A number of syndicate executives answering the 1992 survey said they also see the need for additional features of a light nature.

"Humor has always been a fertile field for us, and it's maybe even better today than before," commented Salem, adding that humor aimed at young readers would be the "double-barreled" ideal.

Another area of questioning concerned breaks for creators, with 43% of syndicate executives strongly agreeing and 21% somewhat agreeing that vacations should be granted.

Also, 21% of syndicate respondents strongly agreed, 25% somewhat disagreed, and 15% strongly disagreed with editors paying for reruns while creators take a sabbatical.

One survey "surprise," according to Salem, was in the area of electronic information services.

"More than half of the syndicates said they have no plans to develop or provide electronic information features such as voice products, electronic pictures, weather, stocks, or graphic services or to deliver editorial cartoons electronically," stated Salem. "Are not editors interested in such services in today's high-tech world? Or is it that some syndicators do not recognize the existing opportunities for such services?"

Finally, 81% of the syndicate respondents strongly agreed that editors with buying authority should see syndicate salespeople and not delegate this to subordinates, and 53% of the syndicators strongly agreed that editors rather than committees should pick features.

Another NFC meeting speaker, Metropolitan Sunday Newspapers president Carmen Willix, discussed the "Crisis in Comics" earlier in the day.

Willix said that MSN's Metro-Puck Comics Network has managed to bring somewhat more national advertising to Sunday comics sections in recent years (E&P, Aug. …

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