Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspapers Are 'Good Thing,' Too

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspapers Are 'Good Thing,' Too

Article excerpt

Martha Stewart, whose media empire includes two columns, praises papers and suggests how they can increase circulation

Martha Stewart can tell you how to clean wicker furniture, make an unusual wedding cake, and get more people to read newspapers. Stewart, whose newspaper connection includes two columns distributed by the New York Times Syndicate (NYTS), wondered if papers could possibly build readership by somehow becoming smaller.

"Maybe we are overburdening readers," Stewart said during the Q-and-A session following her Sept. 28 speech at the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors (AASFE) convention in New York. "The New York Times has seven sections today! That's a lot to digest." She noted that many busy readers put a paper that size "in a pile and never get to it."

Stewart recalled that her daughter took a speed-reading course in grade school, and said such a course can help people get through newspapers and become better readers in general.

The lifestyle maven added that one way newspapers might attract more younger readers would be if parents frequently clipped interesting articles and placed them in their children's rooms.

Stewart said she loves newspapers, reading one to four of them a day while being driven to her many appointments. She peruses the feature and business sections, among other things, and also does the crossword puzzle.

"My driver and I have a pact to not get out of the car until we finish it," laughed Stewart.

She added, "I like human-interest stories, and I like well-researched stories. I've been the subject of a lot of badly researched stories." She did emphasize that newspaper feature writers are usually not the culprits.

Stewart reported that she gets many ideas for her TV shows from feature sections, and said she credits the newspapers on the air. "Newspapers are one of my great sources of information, not only for facts but also for story ideas," Stewart noted.

The speaker told the AASFE audience, which included editors from about 240 papers, that her 4-year-old "askMartha" column has 232 newspaper clients. "What's wrong with the other eight of you?" Stewart quipped. …

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