IT’S NOT BREAKING news that the newspaper industry is losing the attention of young readers. But one sector of the industry is defying the trend: college papers.
Hip, local, relevant and generated by students themselves, college newspapers have held steady readership in recent years while newspapers in general have seen theirs shrink. Big advertisers are going on campus to reach these young readers. Ford Motor Co., Microsoft Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., and walmart" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have all placed recent ads in college newspapers.
Now, media giants are jumping in. Last week, Gannett Co.’s Tallahassee Democrat acquired Florida State University’s FSView & Florida Flambeau, one of the nation’s few for-profit college newspapers. The same day, Viacom Inc.’s MTV, which already runs a network targeted at college campuses called mtvU, agreed to buy Y2M: Youth Media & Marketing Networks, a company that hosts the Web sites for 450 campus papers. MTV executives hope the deal will give mtvU credibility in the college community, providing its advertisers with easy access to college students.
“College newspapers are the most relevant brand on any campus,” says Stephen Friedman, general manager of mtvU. “It immediately gives our advertisers another visceral connection with this audience.”
It’s an audience that reads regularly, despite the conventional wisdom. According to a 2005 survey by market research firm Student Monitor, 71% of college students read at least one of the last five issues of the college paper. By contrast, 46% of students (down from 49% last year) read the print version of at least one national newspaper in a typical week, according to Student Monitor.MORE