How First News proves kids will still read newspapers

The editor of children’s newspaper First News believes its impressive ABC figures show an appetite for print among a generation brought up with the internet.

The weekly paper was one of the best performers in last week’s ABC consumer magazine figures, recording a year-on-year circulation rise of 18.5 per cent.

Sales rose from 50,411 in the first six months of 2011 to 62,903 in the first half of 2012, by far the largest increase First News has achieved in its six-year history.

Launched by editor Nicky Cox and Piers Morgan in 2006, the title’s circulation has grown steadily from 38,075 when it was first audited by ABC in 2007.

There was a lot of scepticism to start with, but Cox feels its latest results prove the doubters wrong.

“When we first launched First News I think everyone thought we were crazy,” she said. “We were told that children weren’t interested in news and that if they were they’d read it on the internet.

“But I felt in a country where we have such a culture of newspaper-reading adults, it seems strange that there wasn’t a newspaper for kids so we launched it anyway.”

Cox also claims the newspaper has far more readers than its circulation figures suggest, as nearly 30,000 copies are distributed to schools.

She said: “The readership is high – well over a million because a lot of copies are in schools. That’s been a big part of our success.

“We work quite closely with schools – we do a lot of school campaigns – and so our popularity has spread by word-of-mouth.”

According to Cox, “awareness” is the key issue behind First News’ extra 12,000 readers in 2012.

“Our issue at the beginning was awareness and it still is,” she said.

“But people who find us tend to stay because they like the paper [and] we’re consistently adding people as more and more find out that the newspaper exists.”

Despite the growth in readership, the newspaper’s editorial team size has not been changed since its launch, with six journalists working on the print copy.

Meanwhile, two extra staff now work on the website, which forms a big part of First News’s success.

“Kids find the website and then realise there’s an actual printed version, and then move onto the paper,” Cox said. “The paper is only weekly so the website is updated all the time and we tell children who read the newspaper to check out the website.”

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