Magazines and Newspapers Target Younger Readers

Posted on July 23, 2004

New American magazines are published for increasingly younger readers, according to a new study from Wooden Horse Publishing. These magazines often contain shorter articles to hold the interest of their younger readers. This same trend can be seen in newspapers. An increasing number of tabloid-style newspapers have hit newsstands over the past few years. Editors at the recent World Association of Newspapers (WAN) Congress in Istanbul suggested that many serious newspapers will soon offer a tabloid format to readers.

"Magazines launched in the 1990s and 2000s capture readers younger than the average magazine purchaser today," said Meg Weaver, owner of the Wooden Horse Magazines Database, an online magazine resource for publicists, writers and researchers with information on over 2,000 US and Canadian consumer and trade publications. "In contrast, magazines launched in the 1950s and 60s attract readers today who are 13% older than the average reader. Readers of magazines founded in the 1970s are 3% older and the trend to younger ages is continuing. Publications from the 1990s have readers 9% younger and those from the 2000s are 13% younger. In other words, large blocks of the reading population are no longer being serviced by the magazine industry."

The trend in newspapers is to publish smaller newspapers targeted at a younger audience. Major publishers seem to have decided that younger readers prefer this smaller format, possibly because it fits in with their busy on-the-go lifestyle. In August, 2003, The Washington Post Company announced the launch of Express, a new commuter newspaper. The Post said a typical edition of Express will be 20 to 24 pages -- designed to be read in 15 to 20 minutes, during the morning commute or breaks in the workday. Last year, Tribune Publishing announced that it is investing in amNewYork, a new daily newspaper in New York City that will target young, urban commuters. And in May of this year, Meximerica Media announced it will be publishing Rumbo, a tabloid newspaper targeting Hispanic men and women between the ages of 21 and 45. These are just a few of the many examples of major newspaper publishers offering the tabloid format to readers.

To draw younger readers, magazines are also rumored to publish shorter material. "We therefore also investigated article lengths and found another disturbing trend," Weaver said. "The average minimum word count that editors request from their writers range from a high of 738 words in magazines founded in the 1960s to an appalling 478 words in magazines launching today."