Impact Study Identifies What Drives Newspaper Readership

Readership Institute Finds 85 Percent of Adults Uses a Newspaper

In a Typical Week



Apr 04, 2001, 01:00 ET from Newspaper Association of America from ,American Society of Newspaper

    WASHINGTON, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A landmark study of daily newspaper
 readership released today at the annual convention of the American Society of
 Newspaper Editors paints a picture of a robust industry with many
 opportunities to strengthen its dominant position.
     The Impact study identified several areas that are linked to higher
 readership among current readers and quantified their relative potential to
 build readership in the future.
     "Content emphasis, service excellence and brand relevance have great
 potential, separately, to build readership. Together, as part of a newspaper's
 readership strategy they have tremendous potential," said John Lavine,
 director of the Readership Institute at the Media Management Center at
 Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
     The results show that on average, in a typical week, about 85 percent of
 the adult U.S. population uses a newspaper. Reading behavior may range from
 intense, everyday use, to looking at the paper only occasionally. "The point
 is that every time a consumer touches a newspaper is an opportunity to entice
 that consumer to use it more, whether he or she is a light reader, a skimmer,
 a selective reader or a moderately heavy reader," Lavine said.
     The Impact Study of Readership was conducted by the Readership Institute.
 It is part of a joint multi-year Readership Initiative coordinated by the
 Newspaper Association of America and ASNE to help the country's nearly 1,500
 daily newspapers maintain and grow readership. The Impact results and a look
 at how newspapers can maximize their local market strength also will be
 featured at NAA's Annual Convention in Toronto, April 29 - May 1.
     "Two years ago, industry leaders recognized the need to address readership
 issues from all angles. The first fruits of our efforts can be seen in the
 Impact results and the local marketing tools that soon will be available,"
 said NAA Chairman Andrew E. Barnes, chairman and CEO of the St. Petersburg
 Times. "The scope of the Impact findings are extremely significant and have
 provided a valuable resource as the industry moves forward in shoring up
 readership -- both in print and online."
     The Institute selected 100 daily newspapers of varying sizes and market
 situations across the country to represent the industry as a whole. It
 surveyed more than 37,000 readers and non-readers in those markets and
 analyzed the news and information content of each Impact newspaper.
     "We sent out 100,000 detailed, 12-page questionnaires and more than 37,000
 consumers took the time to answer them and send them back," said Lavine. "That
 in itself tells us something about how much people care about their local
 newspaper and its importance to the community."
     The study shows that readers expect a variety of content from their local
 newspapers, but certain kinds of news and information have greater potential
 to make them read more. At the top of the list is intensely local, people-
 centered news, which includes stories about ordinary people, community
 announcements and obituaries.
     Lifestyle news -- including stories about health, home, food, fashion and
 travel -- also has high potential to increase readership. The research showed
 that while newspapers have paid a lot of attention to these subjects in recent
 years, there is the potential to do more and to do it better.
     "This is the most exciting piece of research I've seen in 30 years in this
 business. It gives us a clear content roadmap, but also shows us that
 improving readership is going to be a total newspaper effort," said Tim J.
 McGuire, incoming president of ASNE and editor of the Star Tribune in
 Minneapolis.
     Pushing service into the "excellence zone" presents a large opportunity
 for newspapers to grow readership. Service includes things like condition and
 completeness of the delivered newspaper, its physical quality, when and how
 the paper is delivered, and customer service. The study shows that although
 newspapers receive high marks for customer service, providing extraordinary
 service could lead to higher readership.
     The study also shows that building a newspaper brand that is relevant to
 readers will cause them to read more. The brand has to be positive and tie in
 with attributes readers value. An image of the newspaper as intelligent and
 successful has high readership-building potential, as does the perception that
 it is honest, trustworthy and helpful.
 
     Other findings include:
 
     *  Making the newspaper easier to read and navigate improves readership
     *  Improving advertising content drives readership of the newspaper
        overall
     *  In-paper promotion of same-day and upcoming content is especially
        effective with at-risk readers, such as women and young people
     *  Newspapers that have adaptive, constructive cultures tend to have
        higher readership.
 
     The study employs a new method to measure consumers' newspaper-reading
 behavior. "For many years, newspapers measured only the number of copies they
 sold, which under-represents the number of people who actually use newspapers.
 In recent years, more newspapers have begun measuring readership as well,"
 Lavine said. "The method we used, which combines how much time a person spends
 with a newspaper, how often and how completely he or she reads it, is another
 tool that newspapers can use to give a richer picture of how people 'consume'
 them."
     For more information about Impact, contact Lavine at 847-491-4900, or Mary
 Nesbitt, Readership Institute managing director, at 847-467-4285.
 
     With nearly 900 members, ASNE is the principal organization of American
 newspaper editors. It is active in a number of areas, including open
 government, freedom of the press, journalism credibility and ethics, newsroom
 management, diversity, and readership.
 
     NAA is a nonprofit organization representing the $57 billion newspaper
 industry and more than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Most NAA
 members are daily newspapers, accounting for 87 percent of the U.S. daily
 circulation. Headquartered in Tysons Corner (Vienna, Va.), the Association
 focuses on six key strategic priorities that affect the newspaper industry
 collectively: marketing, public policy, diversity, industry development,
 newspaper operations and readership. Information about NAA and the industry
 may also be found at the Association's World Wide Web site
 (http://www.naa.org ).
 
     The Media Management Center at Northwestern University provides executive
 education for senior executives in newspapers and other media in North America
 and around the world. The Center also does media-related research and works on
 special projects with various media companies and organizations.
 
 

SOURCE Newspaper Association of America; American Society of Newspaper
    WASHINGTON, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A landmark study of daily newspaper
 readership released today at the annual convention of the American Society of
 Newspaper Editors paints a picture of a robust industry with many
 opportunities to strengthen its dominant position.
     The Impact study identified several areas that are linked to higher
 readership among current readers and quantified their relative potential to
 build readership in the future.
     "Content emphasis, service excellence and brand relevance have great
 potential, separately, to build readership. Together, as part of a newspaper's
 readership strategy they have tremendous potential," said John Lavine,
 director of the Readership Institute at the Media Management Center at
 Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
     The results show that on average, in a typical week, about 85 percent of
 the adult U.S. population uses a newspaper. Reading behavior may range from
 intense, everyday use, to looking at the paper only occasionally. "The point
 is that every time a consumer touches a newspaper is an opportunity to entice
 that consumer to use it more, whether he or she is a light reader, a skimmer,
 a selective reader or a moderately heavy reader," Lavine said.
     The Impact Study of Readership was conducted by the Readership Institute.
 It is part of a joint multi-year Readership Initiative coordinated by the
 Newspaper Association of America and ASNE to help the country's nearly 1,500
 daily newspapers maintain and grow readership. The Impact results and a look
 at how newspapers can maximize their local market strength also will be
 featured at NAA's Annual Convention in Toronto, April 29 - May 1.
     "Two years ago, industry leaders recognized the need to address readership
 issues from all angles. The first fruits of our efforts can be seen in the
 Impact results and the local marketing tools that soon will be available,"
 said NAA Chairman Andrew E. Barnes, chairman and CEO of the St. Petersburg
 Times. "The scope of the Impact findings are extremely significant and have
 provided a valuable resource as the industry moves forward in shoring up
 readership -- both in print and online."
     The Institute selected 100 daily newspapers of varying sizes and market
 situations across the country to represent the industry as a whole. It
 surveyed more than 37,000 readers and non-readers in those markets and
 analyzed the news and information content of each Impact newspaper.
     "We sent out 100,000 detailed, 12-page questionnaires and more than 37,000
 consumers took the time to answer them and send them back," said Lavine. "That
 in itself tells us something about how much people care about their local
 newspaper and its importance to the community."
     The study shows that readers expect a variety of content from their local
 newspapers, but certain kinds of news and information have greater potential
 to make them read more. At the top of the list is intensely local, people-
 centered news, which includes stories about ordinary people, community
 announcements and obituaries.
     Lifestyle news -- including stories about health, home, food, fashion and
 travel -- also has high potential to increase readership. The research showed
 that while newspapers have paid a lot of attention to these subjects in recent
 years, there is the potential to do more and to do it better.
     "This is the most exciting piece of research I've seen in 30 years in this
 business. It gives us a clear content roadmap, but also shows us that
 improving readership is going to be a total newspaper effort," said Tim J.
 McGuire, incoming president of ASNE and editor of the Star Tribune in
 Minneapolis.
     Pushing service into the "excellence zone" presents a large opportunity
 for newspapers to grow readership. Service includes things like condition and
 completeness of the delivered newspaper, its physical quality, when and how
 the paper is delivered, and customer service. The study shows that although
 newspapers receive high marks for customer service, providing extraordinary
 service could lead to higher readership.
     The study also shows that building a newspaper brand that is relevant to
 readers will cause them to read more. The brand has to be positive and tie in
 with attributes readers value. An image of the newspaper as intelligent and
 successful has high readership-building potential, as does the perception that
 it is honest, trustworthy and helpful.
 
     Other findings include:
 
     *  Making the newspaper easier to read and navigate improves readership
     *  Improving advertising content drives readership of the newspaper
        overall
     *  In-paper promotion of same-day and upcoming content is especially
        effective with at-risk readers, such as women and young people
     *  Newspapers that have adaptive, constructive cultures tend to have
        higher readership.
 
     The study employs a new method to measure consumers' newspaper-reading
 behavior. "For many years, newspapers measured only the number of copies they
 sold, which under-represents the number of people who actually use newspapers.
 In recent years, more newspapers have begun measuring readership as well,"
 Lavine said. "The method we used, which combines how much time a person spends
 with a newspaper, how often and how completely he or she reads it, is another
 tool that newspapers can use to give a richer picture of how people 'consume'
 them."
     For more information about Impact, contact Lavine at 847-491-4900, or Mary
 Nesbitt, Readership Institute managing director, at 847-467-4285.
 
     With nearly 900 members, ASNE is the principal organization of American
 newspaper editors. It is active in a number of areas, including open
 government, freedom of the press, journalism credibility and ethics, newsroom
 management, diversity, and readership.
 
     NAA is a nonprofit organization representing the $57 billion newspaper
 industry and more than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Most NAA
 members are daily newspapers, accounting for 87 percent of the U.S. daily
 circulation. Headquartered in Tysons Corner (Vienna, Va.), the Association
 focuses on six key strategic priorities that affect the newspaper industry
 collectively: marketing, public policy, diversity, industry development,
 newspaper operations and readership. Information about NAA and the industry
 may also be found at the Association's World Wide Web site
 (http://www.naa.org ).
 
     The Media Management Center at Northwestern University provides executive
 education for senior executives in newspapers and other media in North America
 and around the world. The Center also does media-related research and works on
 special projects with various media companies and organizations.
 
 SOURCE  Newspaper Association of America; American Society of Newspaper