Why Rewrite?
Newspapers are in trouble. Readers are straying in record numbers as papers become less essential to their lives. This blog will explore where we've gone wrong and what we're doing right, with an eye toward REWRITING THE FUTURE of newspapers.


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Who's rewriting?
This adventure into journalistic ideas and sausage-making brought to you by a group of journalists with ties to the Newspaper Management Program at the Medill School of Journalism:
  • MO | Meg O'Brien is associate business editor at the Chicago Tribune. She's dabbled in online, keeps her hand in design, did the metro reporting thing and teaches occassionally at Medill. E-mail her.

  • DS | A copy editor at The Daily News Hole, a Midwestern major metro daily. As an 18- to 34-year-old, he is highly sought after by media outlets and advertisers. When not shoveling copy, he enjoys traveling, cooking and spending quality time with his iBook or TiVo.

Finding Rewrite!
Actual search terms used to find this site:

+ Mike Tyson's Tattoo Pic
+ Medill any good?
+ adult movie Fashionista
+ "Take cover, here come Mediasaurus"
+ sausage making receipts
+ Bat Boy T-shirts
+ www.edwardtufte.com
+ "spark interactive" comic creator
+ selling a sunday newspaper to a media planner
+ elvis costello t-shirts
+ pictures of operations at hospitals
+ "Dixie Redfearn"
+ Washington Post pressman union strike
+ racine
+ gannett thrive boise
+ star trek miniskirts
+ today's front pages
+ "typography musueum" london
+ lynn upshaw usa today
+ chicago rewrite service
+ francois dufour, editor
+ sleeve marijuana tatto pic
+ research paper-interesting topics
+ www.newspagedesigner
+ why rewrite papers
+ blog fashion hosiery
+ "Chicago Tribune" "youth publication"
+ mediapost kids
  + "societal influence" AND newspaper
   + dirty tattoo pic 
+ free copy of Marijuana Growers Guide Deluxe
  + status update evan and zora
   + "mon quotidien" pay bac 
  + newspaper sun for san bernandino
   + Enquirer Bat boy T-shirts
+ Rich Ramhoff


Sunday, March 16, 2003

GETTING KIDS HOOKED | Beyond this recent race for 18- to 34-year-olds, American newspapers still fret the youngest generations are not developing the habit. And when you flip through -- especially their "kid pages" -- there can be little confusion as to why that is. There's nothing there for the vast majority of young readers on any given day.

By running a weekly kids section -- usually a colorful, comic-y, tid-bitty, non-newsy page or two that also contains puzzles and games -- most newspapers think they're covering the bases for all readers younger than 18. For 14-year-olds these sections are insulting and they wouldn't be caught dead reading one. For 5-year-olds it's probably too advanced. It might be just right for a few 7-year-olds.

So, one one day a week, most of us take a shot at serving a few kids in one grade. Not the best strategy for future growth.

The Washington Post is taking it more seriously with a daily KidsPost page. They take stories in the news and rewrite them in terms of their relevance to a younger audience. I remember one from a recent trip about the West Coast port strike. The adult version talked about negotiations and union deadlines; the kid version warned that Christmas toys may come late. It's really well done, but I still think it's too hard to create one page that serves both 8-year-olds and 13-year-olds.

Play BAC Presse in France is trying the age-group approach and having some success. The company produces home-delivered daily newspapers -- Tuesday through Saturday -- aimed at specific age groups. It claims a circulation of 170,000 for its first three -- Le Petit Quotidien (ages 7 to 9), Mon Quotidien (ages 10 to 13) and L’actu (ages 14+) -- and expects the fourth added in January targeting ages 5 to 7 will add another 30,000.

Hmmm, I can think of some American newspapers who'd like to pick up another 200,000 subscribers. Since ABC allows these separate editions to be counted as part of total circulation, this may be an option.

There is no advertising in the French model, it's all subscription. My French isn't good enough for me to discern the price, but it seems to be growing and healthy. Having it as a separate edition, I think, is brilliant. It makes it seem special and gives kids something to look forward to. “Among other things, children as young as 5 already love to receive mail everyday,” said François Dufour, editor of all four newspapers.

My idea: Beyond specialized publications, I wonder if we can't do more in the daily. I'd like to see "Kid summaries" included as breakouts for most major stories. They would be a sentence or two simplifying a complex story and summarizing why it's news. With these translation boxes everywhere, kids can feel like they have access to the whole newspaper. And, it may help some light readers who want a quick update without thinking too hard.
[ 11:57 AM | Posted by Ms. M ]

Thursday, March 13, 2003
THE BRITISH ARE DUMBING | Down their newspapers, that is. The Economist on March 6 carried an interesting article about plummeting newspaper readership -- and advertising -- in Britain.

The Economist article claims newspaper readership has dropped off 20 percent since 1990, citing the National Readership Survey, the British equivalent of the Readership Institute in the United States.

Like their American counterparts, the British papers are particularly concerned that young readers don't seem to be picking up the habit. According to the article, the number of newspaper readers under the age of 24 has shrunk by more than a third since 1990 as young Britons increasingly grab news online, or from television or radio.

When they do read newspapers, they tend to like the ones without much news -- and newspapers have been quick to accommodate their tastes.

The Economist reports the only three daily tabloids that bucked the circulation decline in the second half of 2002 focused on entertainment "news." The Daily Star writes almost exclusively about celebs -- with headlines like “Kylie's bum is so yum” -- and its circulation shot up 17 percent. When not writing about bum-yum, the paper is engaging in more meaningful public service through its "Babes" section and by selecting the official five worst blonde jokes.

This pandering isn't shocking. But that it's worsening in an effort to attract young readers in Britain is particularly depressing. That was one country where newspaper readership has always been high -- supporting nearly a dozen daily, national titles in spite of fierce, scrappy competition.

[ 12:05 AM | Posted by Ms. M ]

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