Evaluating 350 newspapers — factors contributing to their success
A summary of a large-scale empirical study
What is it that helps printed newspapers successfully compete with other media for the audience — their marketing efforts, the content they offer, or their design? This paper summarizes the results of an extensive research program, the evaluation of 350 typical local dailies in Germany. They were analyzed thoroughly in 1989 and again in 1994. In addition, a survey provided extensive information about their marketing measures during that period. Finally, socio-demo-graphic and other conditions that newspapers are confronted with in their trade areas were included in the analysis. Criteria for success were the circulation and the reach of every newspaper. Newspaper design, in general, proved to be a little more important than content and marketing for attracting new readers and for keeping old ones. Different strategies, though, seem to apply depending on whether a newspaper wants to reach young or less educated readers or has to compete with other local papers. In general, however, an 'airy,' well-structured design, a greater variety of topics every day, more local orientation and the strict separation of news and entertainment were the best recipes for newspaper success.
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