When it comes to attracting younger readers, the outreach efforts of The New York Times and Washington Post seem to be paying off.
New data from the Pew Research Center finds that adults under age 50 got their election news from national newspapers at rates equal to or greater than those of people over fifty. The trend was particularly clear for big national brands like the The New York Times and Washington Post, which younger adults read at twice the rate of those over fifty. (The same organizations are seeing big bumps in subscription rates post-election.)
The picture was less rosy for local papers, which were far more likely to be a news source for older adults than younger ones. Four in 10 adults over 65 said they got their election news from local daily newspapers, which is three times the rate of those younger than 50. So local papers might want to look to their national counterparts for pointers on how to attract younger readers, particularly online.
The New York Times, for its part, has repeatedly reaffirmed the importance of attracting more young readers. As it noted in its “Our Path Forward” memo published last month:
Moving forward we will be particularly focused on younger readers, who are already our largest category of readers — 40 percent of our mobile audience is under 35 years old — but who lag other groups in engagement. Expanding these relationships isn’t just a matter of growing our audience; it will help us stay ahead of the curve. Young readers were the first to shift to mobile and the first to embrace social platforms, and they have become reliable first indicators of major trends that ultimately affect our entire audience.
Pew says that the data backs up previous research
that found that while older adults gravitated to television to get their political news, young people preferred to read it — largely online.
The takeway, according to researchers Jeffrey Gottfried and Michael Barthel: This is good news for the big national papers, who have “have aggressively pursued online audiences, which tend to be younger.”
Attracting these younger, digital readers may help grow digital advertising revenue and even subscriptions. Nonetheless, most publishers still rely more heavily on print dollars. In other words, attracting young readers may be just one step in securing newspapers’ future.