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 teach understanding and appreciation of the role of news publishing 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 news, not only for the development of the industry but also because freely disseminated journalism, widely read, is fundamental to the democratic process.
to aid the acquisition of knowledge and of analytical skills by introducing printed news editions into the classroom as teaching tools.
- to encourage innovation in developing ways to better engage young people.
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers conducts audience development activities in several areas affecting news publishing including research, resource creation, educator development and networking.
Key areas include:News literacy
- News literacy
- News in education and basic reading skills
- Editorial strategies
- Young journalist programmes
- Youth marketing and public service
A key element of this work honors excellence and innovation in news publisher engagement of the young through the annual World Young Reader Prizes.
WAN-IFRA and its partner news publishing companies and media associations have become allies in the important work of teaching children how to navigate the mass of content that they experience each day, the special role of professional journalism and the role, importance and fragility of press freedom. WAN-IFRA has supports parents and teachers in this work. It produces materials, trains teachers, suggests activities for publishers and rewards innovation. Read more about news literacy itself here.
News 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 news 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 helped schools and publishers begin NIE programmes in more than a dozen countries.
Editorial strategies have traditionally included special supplements, pages and special editons 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 regularly gives publishers free editorial materials that enhance media literacy and family reading. Innovation in this area is honored by the editorial category of the the WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize has an editorial category that
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. WAN-IFRA's most recent global initiatives include the My Dream Interview Festival that called publisher-educator partnerships in 21 countries in which students were ultimately able to interview an inspirational person and see the result published in print and World Teenage News Takeover that calls for giving control of at least some part of the normal news offer to teenagers for a day. WAN-IFRA has also begun A Youth Journalism Toolkit of cases in which news publishers have helped students learn about news by making news.
Youth marketing and public service
Youth marketing and public service cover a wide range of industry activity and services involving young people as well as parents and teachers. Such activity can include contests, competitions, awards, and local and national campaigns and community actions. WAN-IFRA has been especially active in global campaigns around press freedom that resonate with young people. "Brand" and "pubic service" are permanent categories for the World Young Reader Prize.