Sunday, April 27, 2003

Twentysomethings and the Media : Input needed!

I'm speaking at the Canadian Newspaper Association's annual "Super Conference" on Thursday, on a panel called, "Building Brand for the Light Reader."

Here's the description of the panel:

How do we get into the heads and lives of those many readers who, while still using a newspaper for various purposes, are not as closely connected as we want them to be; eg., women, minorities, twenty-somethings? How do we create a more meaningful newspaper-reading experience for them?
Speakers: Mary Nesbitt, Readership Institute; Lucinda Chodan, The Gazette, Montreal; Kelly Nestruck, McGill University student; Sue Grimbly, Brand New Planet. Moderator: Peter Haggert, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.

I'm on the panel representing -- you guessed it -- twentysomethings. In her email inviting me, Anne P. Kothawala, President & CEO of the CNA, wrote:

[A]s a representative of the 20 something demographic I think it would be very interesting to hear your views. I know that you read newspapers and many of your friends do as well. But no doubt you have some friends that don’t and it would be interesting to learn why. We would also like to hear about what you think newspapers are good at and what they are not in terms of attracting younger readers.

I have plenty of opinions on the (condescending/foolhardy/obnoxious) things newspapers do to attract my demographic, but I would like to hear what some other people think. So, if you're a twentysomething media consumer please drop me a line at with your opinions on newspapers. Do you read newspapers regularly? Do you subscribe? Do you prefer online media or television news to newspapers? What do newspapers do to attract readers like you that works? What doesn't, and instead pisses you off? What else turns you off from or on to newspapers?

The Globe and Mail, for instance, consistently pisses me off, ie. this article by William Thorsell (who used to be The Globe's editor-in-chief), basically making it seem like the only newspapers young people read are the free subway tabloids like Metro and FYI Toronto.

Or this column by David MacFarlane, where he jokes that he has only seven readers between the ages of 25-35, and that none of them could possibly like the Rolling Stones. (At the time this column was published, I was a 21-year-old regular reader of his column, who enjoys some of the older Rolling Stones' music; I have since given up reading MacFarlane's columns, which never seem to get to the damn point until halfway through.)

I have also been annoyed at CBC Radio lately for screwing with its programming in an attempt to attract young listeners. One of CBC Radio's stupidest changes was changing the Old News Theme to this Hyperactive News Jingle "composed" by Adam Goddard, the same twit who came up with the Sounds Like Canada theme song. (Thanks to Jon Black for these links.) Like this kind of cosmetic change is really going to attract younger listeners... (At a conference CBC's President Robert Rabinovitch was speaking at, I brought this up; he accused me of being afraid of change, and called me an "old fogey." Really.)

So, email me your comments and I'll fit as many of them into my presentation on Thursday, as possible. Thanks!

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