Provincial newspaper readers are older than average, and growing older. Younger audiences are unlikely to pay for content, but if they read, then they can bring advertisers.
So how do you reach them?
The most valuable local newspaper resource, its ability to generate ‘micronews’, content at the most local level targeted to its audience, is ignored.
Long before the internet, provincial Irish newspapers circulated widely, sent by post to relatives living abroad, who read them not for the front page lead, but for the local parish notes.
Parochial notes cover the minutae of everyday life. Who got engaged, who has a new baby boy or girl, who passed away. They invite readers to local meetings, from the drama society auditions or the sports club tryouts to tidy towns and other community activism.
In other words, local notes are the stuff of social networks. They’re about community. If newspapers want to get those young eyes, then they need to build online communities.
So set up a local wiki or community forum. Invite a few kids to maintain those forums. Give them the training to do so effectively. Pay them. Don’t complain that bloggers are stealing your eyeballs. Hire and pay them.