By: Mark Fitzgerald
Allen H. Neuharth, who 20 years ago launched USA Today, the nation’s largest-circulation daily, in defiance of predictions it would be a financial and journalistic flop, is now promoting another tough sell — a weekend newspaper supplement for young children.
At last week’s Newspaper Association of America convention here, Neuharth quietly convened a meeting of top executives from 10 huge newspaper chains. His pitch: Fund a yearlong feasibility project for a supplement he’s tentatively calling The Paper ‘4’ Kids. Neuharth himself has already commissioned several prototypes of a 36-page publication printed in a format slightly smaller than a comic book. It would be aimed at the estimated 50 million American children under the age of 13. If research shows demand for the project, publication would not start until at least 2004, Neuharth told E&P.
“I’m enthusiastic about it,” said William Dean Singleton, the MediaNews Group Inc. CEO who heard Neuharth’s pitch. “We need to capture readers when they are learning to read.”
Kid-oriented supplements historically have had a hard time attracting sufficient advertising. Neuharth argued that papers have not given past kid-oriented features sufficient time to grow. The subject is clearly one close to the heart of Neuharth, who at 78 is the father to six young children.