November 10, 2003

Quickly, Read This

The Dallas Morning News today rolled out its fast-read tab, Quick, which the paper says is aimed at "time starved professionals" ages 18-34.

The initial edition of Quick is heavy on the Jessicas - a teary-eyed Lynch on the cover and overly exposed Simpson on page two. Quick is more people than policy - although the Lynch story inside shares space with the Saudi bombing and some editor found a wire story credits the Beatles and Hendrix with the collapse of the Iron Curtain. (Here's the paper page by page on PDF.)

Whether this mix will compel calendar-stressed young people to pick of the 150,000 copies of Quick the Morning News is giving away each weekday only time will tell.

The first of the next-generation tabs, the Chicago Tribune's year-old RedEye, is only selling 9,000 copies a day, far below predictions, so clearly the Tribune and other papers still have work to do in concocting a formula that draws younger readers (if one exists).

What is clear, though, is the need for newspapers to recognize that one type of journalism doesn't fit all, especially young people. Newcity Chicago magazine, in a story about the Redeye and its competitor, Red Streak, reports that:

"Mary Nesbitt, a director at the Media Management Center at Northwestern University who studies newspapers, uses the 'read yesterday measure.' According to her data, 54 percent of the adult population read a newspaper yesterday, unlike 39 percent of 18-24-year-olds. For both statistics, the percentage increases by ten percent on Sundays. So 'it's not that they don't read the local daily newspaper, it's that compared to previous generations, they don't read at the same level,' she says.(Emphasis added)

I have been a big fan of newspapers' efforts to attract readers using products that recognize class instead of mass. The Dallas Morning News has become a leader in this initiative, first with Al Dia, the Spanish-language daily it launched in September, and now with Quick.

Al Dia and Quick demonstrate a boldness - and, importantly, one backed by a budget - to go after readers instead of waiting for them to arrive by habit. (Not everyone understands that initiative without budget is meaningless. Read Low Risk, Low Reward about Gannett's skeletal youth-oriented, weekly in Cincinnati.)

Innovation is arriving late to the newspaper industry, no doubt driven by a combination of panic and epiphany - I've always found the former to be a persuasive driver of the latter - and these first efforts at reaching new audiences may not succeed. That's not important. What matters is that some newspapers are finally taking risks, and that in itself will be its own reward.

 Dallas Morning News Quick targets young readers on the go
 Newcity Chicago Red Scare, Are the "youth" tabloids working?

Posted by Tim Porter at November 10, 2003 09:06 AM