Continuing Today’s Theme of Doing People’s Research For Them

Hey Graydon:

“Youthing” down a paper to attract 21-year-olds isn’t the answer: the
only way you’re ever going to get the average 21-year-old to read a
daily newspaper is to wait 9 years until he’s 30.

Sigh. Or, you know, give him a paper right now that is HIS and he feels invested in and wants to read each day.This stat really can’t be repeated often enough:

The study found that more than three-quarters, or 76 percent, of
college students surveyed had read their college newspaper in the past
month. Readership was highest at campuses with daily papers, where 92
percent had read a student newspaper in the previous month. By
comparison, just over one-third of students reported reading their
daily community paper at least weekly.

(Yes, it’s a survey for a college newspaper marketing firm. Does anybody BUT newspaper marketing firms give a damn if people are reading newspapers anymore?)

And you know what? I got this same line of bullshit from so-called adults when I was 21 and had been working a daily paper for three years. “Your generation doesn’t read.” Well, okay, now you’ve made me not want to read your paper since you obviously have a HUGE amount of respect for me, and I read three newspapers every day so fuck you, basically. This kind of crap always comes up in discussions with college journalism kids and I don’t know where you get by busting on the next generation as being shit, I really don’t. It makes me crazy.

I don’t want to rag Carter too much, though, because after arecounting of this thoroughly excellent series the Telegraph has going on, he makes this point:

As this column goes to press, theTelegraph
had already devoted 120 broadsheet pages to the story, in a little more
than two weeks. And although the paper broke the stories on its Web
site, then fed them into the next morning’s print edition, sales of the
actual paper exploded. On the Friday the story broke in print, theTelegraph
sold out. Since then, the paper has sold an extra 600,000 copies.
According to the paper, it was the biggest sales uptick for a
non-conflict-related story since World War II. More letters poured in
from readers than at any other time in theTelegraph’s history.
The story was so compelling that competing papers were grudgingly
forced to illustrate their reports on the affair with shots of theTelegraph’s banner headlines. There is now talk of a knighthood for Lewis for his part in uncovering the scandal.

And they say newspapers are dead.

And had he ended with YOU MUST CHILL I HAVE HIDDEN YOUR KEYS or JESUS TITS or SCHMUCKS I’d be forced to declare I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Hat tip, though technically as a blogger I’m supposed to just steal without crediting, to reader DR.


8 thoughts on “Continuing Today’s Theme of Doing People’s Research For Them

  1. As someone who wanted to work for a newspaper since before I was even in that demographic, that attitude drives me nuts. I’ve always thought the reason the sub-30 demographic (which I’m still in) is less inclined to read newspapers is a money/moving from place to place thing.

  2. Which is to say: it’s harder to get people interested in local coverage if those people aren’t sure they’re going to be local. Since I graduated, my years in neighborhoods have gone as follows: 2, 1, 1, and 1 (soon to be 2). And I’m somewhat unusual for having remained in the same city I went to college.
    On the other hand: when people buy property and start sending their kids to school, I’ve noticed that their interest in local news goes *way* up.

  3. i started reading the comics around 10 or so, the editorial cartoon later. not sure when i READ the paper, but i kknew i prefered the liberal afternoon paper. and in highschool the USA today came out + i thought it was awful. i never wanted to be a newsie tho.

  4. Carter attributes the payments story to reporter Ben Leapman’s 2005 FOIA request, but I wanted to point out thatothers have attributed the story’s origin to a 2004 request by American-raised/British-born reporter Heather Brooke, who — not incidentally to your point Athenae — credits her interest in public records journalism to her time on the paper at UW, as well as stints at the Spartanberg (SC) Herald-Journal and the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

    Brooke wrote a book “Your Right To Know,” suspecting that the British public needed a lesson in how to use freedom of information laws – legislation being newly introduced to the U.K.
    In 2004, drawing on her experience in Spokane, Brooke lodged a request for details of British lawmakers’ expenses. Her claim was met with derision by authorities at the House of Commons.
    “They pretty much laughed in my face, because it was just so unheard of that a common person would dare to ask for them,” she said.

  5. Ha! I just rewatched Say Anything with my twelve year old. “You must chill! I have hidden your keys!” Indeed.

  6. I followed that link to the Telegraph and looked through the slideshow of all those snaggle-toothed, red-faced, expenses-claiming MPs and I have to say forget about the moat, I want that duck house. WANT.

  7. I know I’m a broken record on this, but if dumbing down the paper is the answer, why does my local college put out a much better paper, full of local news, while the “real” newspaper is mainly AP feeds from elsewhere??????

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