“The Week” Finds the Sweet Spot for Younger Readers

Billing itself as the “perfect antidote to modern media’s overkill,” The Week is one of the fastest growing print magazines of the last 10 years, according to its website.  Now The Week – which attempts to provide clarity and context for the complex issues coming at us in the media stream – has been joined by a print publication aimed at 8-14-year-olds. Aiming to engage young readers in the issues, The Week Junior is one of the fastest growing UK children’s magazines.

Jon Watkins of FIPP recently caught up Kerin O’Conner, chief executive at Dennis Publishing, to talk about the rationale behind The Week Junior.

“Our audiences are clever people who appreciate expert opinion that allows them to make up their own minds,” O’Conner explained. “One thing we noticed over the years was that The Week is particularly popular with teenagers. If the magazine went into a family who had a 14-15-year-old, then the teenager was more than likely reading it too. Their first serious entry point into news often came from reading a copy of The Week.”

This led them to consider a print title for a younger audience – but research into the idea was “dispiriting,” as prevailing wisdom pointed to a lack of interest in print in that children.

“But when we dug further into this audience, we found that UK children’s books sales were at a 10-year high,” O’Conner continues. “The highest level since the last Harry Potter. Children were reading just as much as ever in print. So we began to develop a product.”

He believes that print is the right medium for this in-depth kind of content, saying “Only print can really give an immersive experience, with great breadth and pacing. It’s very difficult to achieve that experience on a phone, or in an app or on a website.

“Also print is universal – not all nine-year-olds have iPhones,” he continues. “And we know that lots of our readers like to keep the copies. They’re also easier to share within the family or discuss editorial with parents. One final thing, the quality is higher because the pictures look better.”

And the results? Continuous growth, according to their sales figures, with each issue selling more than the previous week’s.

Their success is based on solid reporting and bolstered by an understanding that ease of entry is critical.

“We spend a lot of time at Dennis making sure that it’s easy for our customers to buy a magazine, to find out when it’s going to turn up, to renew their subscription – because you want to try to remove as many barriers to the relationship as possible.  You want buying a magazine to be easy,” O’Conner notes.

It’s no surprise that a magazine that prides itself on bringing clarity to complexity would see this kind of growing success. After all, success in print publishing today depends finding clarity in the complexity of a changing media landscape: understanding your audience; providing them with quality content; and making it easy to engage.

So far, it looks like The Week Junior gets high marks in all categories.