No matter what business model news publishers devise or platform they choose, it will all be for naught if they do not pay meaningful attention, right now, to youth.
The WAN-IFRA youth engagement and news literacy programmes have several core objectives since efforts began in 1991:
- to aid the acquisition of knowledge and of analytical skills by introducing newspapers into the classroom as teaching tools
- to teach understanding and appreciation of the role of newspapers in a democratic society and the fundamental values of free expression, debate, tolerance and openness for which the press stands;
- to promote citizenship, rights and responsibilities;
- to encourage reading, and particularly the reading of newspapers and magazines, not only for the development of the industry but also because a free press, widely read, is fundamental to the democratic process.
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers conducts readership development activities in several areas affecting the newspaper print medium and supporting digital information services including research, resource creation, educator development and networking.
Key areas include:
- News[papers] in Education and basic reading skills
- Editorial strategies
- Young journalist programmes
- Youth marketing
- News literacy
A key element of this work honors excellence in newspaper engagement of the young through annual World Young Reader Prizes.
News[papers] in Education (NIE) and reading skills
NIE or News[papers] in Education is the use of digital or printed newspaper content as an additional resource in a class. The newspaper can be used to provide lessons in basic reading (for both children and adults), mathematics, politics, science, social studies, geography and critical thinking. NIE can be carried out at all levels of education and the lessons can be designed to tie in with the national school curriculum. Use of the newspaper in this way has been shown to enhance reading comprehension, general academic achievement and civic values. Under its NIE Development Project, supported by Norske Skog, the Norway-based paper producer, WAN-IFRA helps schools and publishers begin NIE programmes.
Editorial strategies have traditionally including special supplements, pages andspecial newspapers aimed at the young reader. Now, although print approaches seem to be making somewhat of a come-back, successful editorial strategies require extensive and meaningful digital interaction. WAN-IFRA produces free editorial materials for newspapers that enhance media literacy and family reading.
Young journalist programmes
In young journalist programmes, content is created by young people with varied levels of involvement in the rest of the publishing process. These can be short-term, lasting for a day once per year, for example, or long-term and offering regular publication.
Youth marketing which covers a wide range of industry activity and services involving youth as well as parents and teachers. Such activity can include contests, competitions, collectables, awards, and local and national campaigns. "Brand" is a permanent category for the World Young Reader Prize.
WAN-IFRA and its partner newspapers and newspaper associations have become allies in the important work of teaching children about media messages and their origins and about importance and fragility of press freedom. WAN-IFRA has prodiced guides to understanding the newspaper and other media as well as materials to help educators teach about press freedom.