How newspapers can get readers under 30

newspaperEveryone is touting the death of the printed word because the audience for newspapers is declining every time someone is born into the digital age. But that doesn’t mean that they have to go quietly into the night. Here’s an idea that could re-engage young readers and leverage the power of the printed word: Use the potential of the internet to boost readership offline.

Here’s how it could work.

One thing that Web 2.0 has taught us is that we love to engage with social media. Part of that is getting our opinions heard (case in point, see: this blog). This is where newspapers aren’t doing a good job. A half page of letters to the editor (often sited as one of the more popular areas of the paper) just doesn’t cut it anymore. What if newspapers used the comments they received online and transferred them to their printed edition the very next day? Users could vote, Digg-style, for the best comments on select editorial pieces or emotionally-charged news stories, and those ones would make the cut.

It may not be a long-term solve, but there is still quite a bit of cachet to getting your letter printed in the newspaper. Avid readers of online editions (which typically skew younger), could make comments online and be drawn to the printed version to see their letter or comment in print. After all, no matter how old we get, we still want mom to have something to cut out for the fridge.

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