| The NAA Foundation focuses on Newspaper In Education, newspaper youth content, scholastic journalism and diversity. In this blog, you'll learn about products, programs and resources that emphasize the use of newspapers and other media by young people. You'll also learn about programs and activities that can help news media companies transform their cultures in order to grow business and increase readership and audience.
October 2008 - Posts
The topic for chapter 3 of our Young Reader Conference roundup is NIE advisory boards.
Not everyone needs an NIE advisory board, but those who use outside opinions to help form NIE programs should take care of the people who essentially take care of them, said Diana Boschen, director of educational programs and partnerships for the Daily News in New York.
Advisory boards give NIE professionals field knowledge and help them do their jobs better. Their makeup can include teachers only or a mix of community professionals with ties to the educational field and sponsors, along with representatives of other newspaper departments.
When deciding to form a board, Boschen advised NIE professionals to have a clear proposal on how it will work, how members will be recruited, who will supervise it, how often it will meet, its goals and purpose, expectations of members and more.
Boschen said she does not pay her board members, but gives them a thank-you meal at the end of each advisory year and takes them on a newsroom tour to meet reporters.
Treat board members well, she said, and they will act as a barometer and forecaster for your NIE program. They can make recommendations on extending or improving curriculum materials and programs, or help with marketing.
Tips for structuring meetings include:
- Select an advisory board coordinator from among the group to help with communication between the NIE coordinator and the board.
- Run the meeting like a real business meeting with minutes, an agenda, old business and new business, then send minutes to members and extended group members.
- Meet when you can. Boschen's team meets once a year, but do whatever works best for your members.
-- By Barbara Allen and Kelsea Gurski
Click here to read more of our Phoenix roundup.
Chapter 2 in our Young Reader Conference roundup is "Alts Rock," a look at Chris Courtney's session on alternative storytelling methods.
Think of a giant sandwich placed in front of you and how grateful you are to see that someone has cut it in half. Suddenly, things become more manageable to consume.
That is the concept behind alternative story forms, or "alts," according to Chris Courtney, design director for RedEye, the Chicago Tribune's free news and entertainment tabloid.
Courtney described an alt as a scannable, focused, reader-driven, non-narrative piece in which readers consume information in chunks. He said studies have shown that alts yield greater information retention than traditional narratives.
Readers have fewer free moments to digest daily news, and while traditional narrative story forms work well in many cases, readers should be surprised occasionally with a new, exciting way to consume information, he said, adding that younger readers would appreciate this approach.
Courtney said the best way to begin incorporating alts into newspaper storytelling is to consider presentation at the outset. Talking with everyone involved in production - "What's the best way to tell this story?" - would better yield a readable, well-planned alternative piece.
"Over time, our uses and needs for all forms of [communication] has changed," he said.
Newspaper readers want stories that are unique, informative, surprising, funny, fast-paced and engaging, he added, and alts can help stories take on those characteristics.
Courtney outlined several types of alts:
Breakout boxes. The oldest of alts, Courtney said, these can be used for entire stories. Take a long story, break out key information readers need to know and edit out overlapping information.
- Charticles. Best used when comparing things, these articles in chart form allow readers to scan information quickly for aspects they care most about.
- Timelines. These work best when dealing with six or more plot points.
- Topic 101. This format helps to make new ideas or products more familiar by breaking the idea into key facts.
- How To. These offer readers step-by-step explanations for timely tasks.
- Graphic Novel. This could be a hit with teens. Instead of using a photograph, or if you are reporting on something that cannot be photographed, consider using an artist to re-create the scene.
- Quiz. An easy way to engage your reader. Who can resist the thrill of competition? Instead of a story on the next Batman movie, offer readers a trivia quiz on Batman history.
- Catch-ups. In some way, these reorient the reader with previous events.
- Combination. "You can use several of these things together to tell a more whole and rich story," Courtney said.
Alts require more time and planning, but the surprise factor they provide readers is often worth it. "Give 'em a reason," he said, "to turn and open it up."
-- By Barbara Allen and Kelsea Gurski
Click here to see more from Phoenix.
Barbara Allen of the Tulsa World and Kelsea Gurski of The State Journal Register in Springfield, Ill., covered the 2008 Young Reader Conference for the Foundation. Here's an excerpt from their Phoenix roundup on NIE teacher-to-teacher marketing.
I'll post more of Barbara's and Kelsea's nuggets in the coming days. If you'd like to read their full account, which includes photos, click here.
When Cindy Piller, educational services manager for the Times-Call in Longmont, Colo., needed a creative, effective sponsor thank-you ad quickly, she turned to an amazing resource - teachers.
Pictures and stories from NIE teachers explaining benefits students have reaped from newspapers in the classroom have resulted in the most effective ads Piller has used, and the approach is simple.
"Teachers are at the core of what we do," she said.
"You are selling learning. You are selling a different way for kids to learn that impacts them, that improves their test scores. You are selling learning, not just teaching, not just education. But these students will learn reading the newspaper."
Why should the NIE coordinator be speaking in an ad telling teachers to subscribe? Instead, Piller said, let teachers use their own voices in ads about them, their students, their classrooms and their creative ways for using the newspaper as a teaching tool.
Picking the right teacher is not as important as simply putting teachers in the ads. Include teachers with clout, male teachers and those who teach English language-learners, Piller suggested, and incorporate plenty of comments about student response. Photograph teachers in their classrooms and your newspaper studio against white backdrops for Photoshop cutouts and take more than just headshots. Make the message and photographs big, and show teachers and students together.
"My advice is, if you can, turn it up a notch," Piller said.
Results she has seen from these ads include:
- Teachers sharing more information on how they are using the newspaper
- Teachers calling the NIE coordinator about cool projects they are doing
- Teacher orders increasing
- Sponsors becoming easier to recruit
- Sponsor renewals becoming easier and bigger
- Vacation donations increasing because explaining what teachers are doing with newspapers is easier.
The teen fellows' presentation to the Foundation Board of Trustees concluded with a short question-and-answer session.
In response to a query about online advertising, Jackie Slack (Phoenix 2008) recalled an ESPN banner ad for Monday night football. It drew her in, she said, because it involved an interactive game. "I watched football that night," she noted.
Elliot Butay (Phoenix 2008) followed up by saying that Facebook has done a good job of making ads relevant to users. He also responded to a question about what teens pay for online: "We download a lot of music."
Elliot also mentioned eBay as a place where teens spend money, prompting Andre Haughton (St. Louis 2006 and World/DC 2007) to add that if it weren't for music and shopping, "nine times out of 10 we don't pay for anything on the Internet."
The final question involved use of college campus newspapers. Andre, a student at the University of Florida, said his campus paper is "branded -- it's the thing to read." The reason for that, he said, is that "campus papers do a good job because they keep their ear to the street."
This concludes our look at what three teens had to say about what newspapers can do better to attract young people to their products. Again, if you'd like to see the most recent presentation by the Foundation's teen fellows, click here.
"My friends ... do not read newspapers because they do not think they are modern enough," Andre Haughton said in his opening remarks to the Foundation Board of Trustees.
However, the University of Florida student was quick to offer a solution: emerging technology. He showed YouTube clips on Microsoft's Smart Table (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP5y7yp06n0), Sony's flexible OLED (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcAm3KihFho) and E-Ink's electronic paper (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7HD4DQQB2Q) as examples of what newspapers might use in the near future to deliver their products -- and attract tech-savvy young people.
"It's not always what you cover," said Haughton, who represented the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's TeenLink at the St. Louis (2006) and World/Washington, D.C. (2007) Young Reader Conferences. "It's the delivery method."
Next up in part 4: the teens respond to questions from the board
In his portion of the teen fellow presentation to the Foundation Board of Trustees, Elliot Butay raved about a new Web service that he had just discovered: Ping.fm.
Ping allows users to update their social networks all at once. For busy teens with pages on MySpace, Facebook, Xanga and the like, it's a must-have.
"If newspapers could host a site like this," he told the board, "I would go to it."
Elliot, who represented the Tulsa World's Satellite at the 2008 Young Reader Conference in Phoenix, also talked about pop-up ads. "We have been programmed to ignore pop-ups, but if it's something we want to know ... ." As an example of a possible pop-up subject, he mentioned a John Mayer concert.
He encouraged newspapers to work on raising awareness about their content with young readers. "I would read about it if I did know," he said.
Stay tuned for part 3 ...
Last week, three of the Young Reader Conference teen fellows attended the fall meeting of the Foundation Board of Trustees to talk about their news and information preferences -- specifically, what they read online and what they think newspapers could do better to attract young people using Web sites and emerging technology.
Jackie Slack (Phoenix, 2008) kicked off the presentation by lauding the importance of text messages. "When I get a text, I feel really important," said Slack, a member of the Page One staff at the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, Ohio.
She showed board members her MySpace page, which has a "news merger" function that allows her to tailor news feeds to suit her preferences. Customization is key for her, because "it's all about me," she said with a grin.
Jackie also referenced "MyPaper.com," which she created for the teen fellow presentation at the Young Reader Conference in Phoenix. Click here to see a PDF of the presentation (second one on the list).
Stay tuned to get "Pinged" in part 2 ...