Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Too Many Papers Are Not 'Kidding'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Too Many Papers Are Not 'Kidding'

Article excerpt

In an attempt to combat decreasing readership among young readers, many newspapers have launched lively tabs aimed at college students and twenty-somethings. But are they aiming too high, or in this case, too old, when many in this demographic have already dropped the newspaper habit? Some papers are targeting the 8-12 year-old demo to find out.

J. Ann Selzer, president of the research firm Selzer & Co. Inc., says that this "tween" age group has been difficult to study because people of that age are not easy to survey. But that hasn't stopped the The Atlanta Journal Constitution's "News for Kids," which targets an audience ranging in age from 7 to 14, for finding a good deal of success since its redesign at the beginning of last September.

Anita Harkins, the editor of the section and a mother of a tween daughter, explains that it's a good mix of what kids should know, what they're learning in school, and what they want to read. She notes it's been so successful that even parents of the targeted readers read "News for Kids" for a run-down of what's going on in the world.

"One of our really popular things is 'Spanish for Everyone,'" Harkins says. "I revamped it because when I came, it was incredibly boring. Now there are puzzles and games that go with it. It's interactive."

Harkins also organizes contests for readers, with prizes ranging from books to baseball tickets. She also regularly publishes jokes that kids send in. All of this encourages kids to continue to pick up a newspaper, she says, even if it's only to see if they won a particular contest. Every week Harkins receives hundreds of letters, a huge influx since she launched the redesign. Before, "News for Kids" received about only a dozen or so letters per week.

This type of interactivity with the Journal Constitution allows children to understand that there's more to the news than just reading it on the Internet. …

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