Mary Nesbitt is managing director of the Readership Institute at the Media Management Center and associate dean for curriculum and professional excellence at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. The Readership Institute, which was created with funds provided by newspaper CEOs in 1999, field-tests readership-building ideas and educates newspaper leaders seeking to adopt best practices. Recently the institute has expanded its work into magazines, TV and online media, for example studying teens and their relation to online news and looking at user-generated content and social networking to find out the kind of news people are most likely to notice and share.
“What Readers Mean When They Say They Want Local News”
– Dean Miller
Significant newspaper studies done by the institute include:
Impact Study: The Power to Grow Readership: Released in 2000, this study identified practices in a representative sample of newspapers and highlighted best practices at papers with the best overall readership results. The institute continues to track the original 100 newspapers in this study since they represent a good sample of the industry as a whole.
The Newspaper Experience: Released in 2003, this study identified feelings, emotions and reactions that contribute to why people read their daily newspaper more. It also points out those feelings, emotions and reactions that drive readers away.
New Readers: Released in 2004, this study looked at experiences that cause different age groups—with a special focus on younger people and more diverse groups of adults—to engage with the newspaper or discount it. It also identified approaches that resonate with these potential readers. —D.M.