NIE and Youth Readership
The Newspaper Association of America Foundation
has published three research reports citing the benefits of
Newspaper in Education programs and youth/teen pages in
newspapers. The following summaries are verbatim excerpts from the
text of those reports.
Growing Lifelong Readers - The
Impact of Student Involvement with Newspapers on Adult
Readership - "More than six out of ten of those with high
school newspaper exposure during childhood are regular readers as
adults, compared to only 38 percent of those with no exposure."
Lifelong Readers ... The Role
of Teen Content - "Of the young adults who read both the
local newspaper and the teen section as teens, nearly 78 percent
said they read a weekday newspaper in the past week ... compared
with 34 percent who had neither read the teen section or the
newspaper when they were 13 to 17 years old."
Lifelong Readers ... Driving
Civic Engagement - "For those young adults between the ages
of 25 and 29, a major predictor (of involvement in civic
activities) was the number of online news sites they visited as
teens ... and two-thirds of those surveyed said they currently
read a local daily newspaper during an average week."
Growing Lifelong Readers ... The Impact of
Student Involvement with Newspapers on Adult Readership
When we examine the relationship between
newspaper exposure as a student and current newspaper readership
patterns, we find that there is a very strong
relationship. Individuals with a high level of newspaper
exposure as students are much more likely to be current
regular readers of a newspaper. For example:
- 62 percent of those with high exposure read a
weekday newspaper regularly versus only 38 percent of those with
no exposure when they were students.
If we examine the impact of newspaper
involvement in elementary, middle and high school separately, we
find that high involvement is associated with higher adult
readership for every level of school. However, the impact
appears to be slightly greater at the middle and high school
The impact of exposure to newspaper involvement
programs appears equally strong among 18-to-24-year-olds and
25-to-34-year olds -- suggesting that the impact does not
decline over time.
The majority (56 percent) of those who attended
middle/junior high school recall using newspapers in the
classroom. For example, 91 percent recall talking about
newspaper articles in class.
More than two thirds of respondents recall using
newspapers in high school. Among those who used newspapers in
high school, 50 percent recall a class where newspapers were
distributed and 33 percent recall taking a course that covered
journalism or newspaper production.
The types of newspaper usage that represent the
most formal, organized approach to newspapers among newspapers
- Having a class where newspapers were
distributed to the students
- Having a class where using a newspaper was
integrated into the curriculum as part of social studies,
reading, math or another subject.
The association between parents' readership when
growing up and exposure to newspapers in school when growing up
is limited. There is an association between a family's reading
and discussing newspaper contents and newspaper involvement.
Perhaps this was a consequence of student newspaper programs.
Respondents describe using newspapers in school
in very positive terms - as not only educational and
informative, but also fun, entertaining and a welcome change.
Most young adults say they began reading in
full report ... a PDF file.
Lifelong Readers ... The Role of Teen Content
This report provides hard statistical data that
newspaper content for teens, by teens and related to teens
strongly bolsters a newspaper's ability to attract young readers
and keep them as they age.
One result of this study should be a realization
by newspapers that if they direct content to theiri pre-teen and
teen readers, they can build future readership among
18-to-34-year-olds without additional initiatives.
The survey determined that 75 percent of the
respondents who read newspaper content for teens when they were
13 to 17 years old are currently reading their local paper at
least once a week. Only 44 percent of those who did not read the
teen section are now reading their local paper at least once a
The study also uncovered a similarly strong
connection between the teen sections and later use of the
newspaper's website. Reading the newspaper during the teen
years increases the odds of visiting the website as a young
adult. However, reading the teen section as well provides a
significantly larger boost to later website usage.
Three fourths of the young adults who read the
newspaper and its teen section between the ages of 13 and 17
said they have visited a newspaper website, and 42 percent said
they have done so in the past 30 days.
What attracts teens to teen sections? Personal
relevance is key. The study determined that content specifically
written for and about teens is the strongest driver of teen
section reading. Personal connections are a strong secondary
attraction, including writing for the section or being mentioned
in an article, or knowing others who were similarly involved.
Thirty percent of those interviewed said "teencentric"
content was the main reason they read the teen sections.
full report ... a PDF file.
Lifelong Readers ... Driving Civic Engagement
Programs that encourage newspaper reading by
teens also facilitate civic engagement 10 to 15 years later when
the young people have moved beyond high school and/or college
and are taking their place in their communities.
The impact of newspapers on future civic
engagement is more pronounced if the respondents had two or more
of the newspaper-related experiences as teens.
The link to newspapers was established by
responses from people who remembered newspapers being used in
their high school classes, those who had homework assignments
that included reading newspapers, and those who remembered
reading or looking at teen-focused content in their local
In addition, the use of online news sources as
teens is a strong predictor of future civic engagement.
This is more pronounced for those ages 25 to 29
than those ages 30 to 34, primarily because the Internet was not
such a dominant force during high school for the older group.
For example, 38 percent of the
25-to-29-year-olds visited online news sites as teens, compared
with 11 percent of the 30-to-34-year-olds.
In short, teen newspaper exposure matters.
Among the young adults questioned in the survey,
86 percent said they now get most of their news in an average
week from television, followed closely by 79 percent who use the
Internet. The Internet, however, beats out TV for the largest
number of daily news consumers (37 percent).
Two-thirds of those surveyed (67 percent) said
they currently read a local daily newspaper during an average
week, but only 15 percent read the local paper all seven days.
The message to newspapers is equally clear:
- Find ways to ensure that teens are encouraged
to use newspapers in both classrooms and homework assignments,
and reach out to the same group with teen content.
- Encourage and promote discussions of current
events between teens and their parents or guardians, as well as
with other teens.
- Give the newspaper website the same priority
as the print product, because young people are turning more and
more to online for their news.
By taking these steps, not only will newspapers
be more likely to develop a solid core of future readers, but
their communities also will benefit from the efforts and
commitment of those young adults to make the world a better
full report ... a PDF file.