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Hanft: No One Asked Me But...

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Newspapers Need Reinvention

For years now, the newspaper industry has been virtually paralyzed as it has watched its readership age and younger consumers turn to other media.

While they've made a few feeble gestures, for the most part, newspapers have seemed to accept this geriatricizing as inevitable. The argument: younger readers were brought up on television and aren't programmed to consume their news in printed form.

Nonsense. There is ample evidence that younger consumers are readers. As far as men are concerned, witness, for example, the explosion and success of gaming magazines. Or, the rapid acceptance of Conde Nast's —Cargo.— Young women are flocking to —In Style—, —Lucky— and others.

Newspapers simply haven't created the kind of editorial that is compelling to a younger demographic:

  • Where is the lifestyle coverage of arts and entertainment in a voice that's relevant to the youth culture? When the New York Times or The Washington Post cover contemporary music -- including hip-hop -- the editorial persona isn't a youthful perspective, say, the way Blender is written, but emanates from a quasi-parental perch.
  • Where is the credible video game coverage? Where is the major metropolitan daily with a slashing but informative angle on the latest games, gossip and the like. For heaven's sake, the Times has a bridge column and a chess column and they wonder why they aren't attracting a younger audience?
  • Where is any editorial at all with the irreverent edge of either Maxim for men or Daily Candy for women?

  • Where is any attempt to revitalize the moribund classified sections with a youthful vehicle like Craig's List. How dumb could the big old newspapers be to miss this opportunity?
  • Nearly a generation ago, the Times innovated with its lifestyle sections built around food, home decor and technology. Today, that has become the standard, a conservative journalistic staple. The newspaper industry needs to reinvent itself for younger readers as it did in the 1970's. It's not like there's no audience, but that it's an audience which is being strangely overlooked, while its loss is simultaneously and ironically bemoaned.
  • Adam Hanft is the Inc.com Marketing Resource Center columnist. Read more Hanft here.

    (NOTE: Adam Hanft writes "No One Asked Me, But" as often as a corrective idea strikes him, roughly once a week, and he will be responding to bloggers as soon as humanly possible.)

    Last updated: Sep 16, 2004




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