Shel Holtz points to studies showing that young people don’t buy newspapers. I suspect that the newspaper buying habit comes with a settled life: commuters and home workers find them more valuable than students, who are still largely creating their own entertainment, gossip and issues.
Yet it’s our job as PR practitioners and academics to encourage a newsreading habit. I start with a simple task: I require each first year student to get a letter, in their name, in a newspaper. (I’m aware of the potential ethical problem, which is why the student’s letter has to be in their name on a subject of their choice and sent to a newspaper they have picked.)
Watching the connection being made between cause (letter) and effect (words in print) – and noting the responses of the many people who do read and take note of newspapers is very encouraging (and a good start point for understanding media relations). One student tells how she was stopped several times in the street in her home town by people who remembered her and who had read her letter in the evening paper. Never underestimate the power of the press.