Reaching young readers by re‐engaging their parents Parents are vitally interested in the education of their children, and reading is an important factor in that education, which makes parents a key ally in newspapers’ effort to attract young readers, advises educational publisher Francois Dufuor. It is a value proposition for parents, Dufuor told the 2009 international Young Reader Roundtable in Hyderabad, India. “They are ready to pay for education,” he said in outlining several strategies for reaching young readers through their parents. Dufuor is founder of Plac Bac Press, an independent French educational publishing house that produces My Weekly, Le Petit Quotidien, Mon Quotidien, l´Actu and l´Actu-Eco. The newspapers have a unique design of targeting a younger audience and focus on specific age groups for each publication. Keep in mind that the parents read these newspapers as well as the targeted youngsters, Dufuor told the roundtable audience. Therefore one strategy is to include bigger stories for adults alongside the content designed for the younger audience. In newspapers intended for older young readers, stories are select that will interest both the parents and their young readers. On days when the adult stories are potentially not suitable for young readers, Dufuor explained that the newspapers are distributed in a black wrapper with a disclaimer “saying to the parents: It’s up to you to decide for your kids to read the paper today.” Since parents are paying for the subscription, it is their decision to
Francois Darfou speaks in Hyderabad, India. make, he said. My Weekly takes a different approach to satisfying the parents of young readers by helping the reader learn more English. The newspaper presents the news of the week in English and offers a page at the end that works as a tool to learn the language. Reaching out to aspiring journalists through workshops is another approach Dufuor has taken toward young readers. Parents can bring their children to the newspaper office on Wednesdays and Sundays to become “editors for a day.” Once again, Dufuor noted, it is important that the workshop impress the parents because they are paying for it. Beyond newspapers, Plac Bac Press introduced a radio program every Saturday that turns the tables on parent-child interaction. “It’s not targeting kids,” Dufuor explained. “It’s really targeting an adult audience.” The show puts youngsters on the air asking questions about the news that, in their naivety, often cut to the core of the issues for the adult listeners. iPhone applications are the newest technology Dufuor said is being used to reach out to the parents of young readers. Children can view the newspaper on their parent’s iPhone, but the parents have to buy the application because the young readers can’t pay for it themselves. The project has been successful in saving the cost of printed copies, he explained.