READERS OFFER ADVICE ON HOW TO GROW READERSHIP

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Survey Offers Ways To Reverse Circulation Decline


WASHINGTON – The most extensive readership study ever
conducted – involving 37,000 consumers who agreed to answer
a 450-question survey – concludes newspapers can reverse the
long-term decline of the newspaper reading habit by implementing
eight changes.

“If we don’t have double-digit growth [in readership levels] with
these measures, I’d be surprised,” said John Lavine, director of
Northwestern University’s Readership Institute, which conducted
the Impact Project study for the American Society of Newspaper
Editors (ASNE) and the Newspaper Association of America.

By simply running in-paper promotions of their stories,
newspapers significantly increases reader satisfaction with the
paper and its market image, the study found. Other measures that
grow readership are high-quality customer service; making the
paper easier to read and navigate; emphasizing the “ordinary
person” in articles; writing hard news in a feature style;
promoting the paper’s brand with image ads; using advertising to
draw readers into and through the paper; and changing the
military-like corporate culture of most newspapers.

Full results of the study, released last Wednesday at ASNE’s
annual meeting here, are available at the Readership Institute’s
Web site, http://www.readership.org.



Mark Fitzgerald (mfitzgerald@editorandpublisher.com) is editor at large for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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