PULLMAN, Wash. — With newspaper readership in a free fall, attracting a new generation of readers may be the newspaper industry’s only salvation.
That’s according to John Irby, a Washington State University faculty member who directed a program that brought together industry veterans from The Spokesman-Review and faculty at WSU’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communication to address critical issues in the future of newspapers. The results of the Newspaper-in-Residence Program appear in a recently published booklet, “Reaching Generation Y – Back to the Future (Again).”
Generation Y is the nickname given to those born between 1977 and 1995. The focus of the professionals in the residence program was finding ways to reach this group through readership and preparing the next generation of newspaper journalists, said Irby, assistant professor and head of the journalism degree program in the School of Communication.
The booklet includes the results of the partnership, including an adaptation of the Spokesman’s successful “Pizza Papers” project, which brings groups of citizens together over pizza to talk about issues facing their communities. Former Spokesman Managing Editor Peggy Kuhr took information gathered from Generation Y students and used it in interactive classroom visits, faculty brown bag sessions and campus-wide discussions at WSU.
Other projects examined stereotypes, culture and diversity, and civic journalism and Generation Y. In addition to Kuhr — who now serves as the Knight Chair in Journalism at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas — other participating journalists included Doug Floyd, Spokesman ombudsman; Rebecca Nappi, Spokesman interactive editor; and Chris Peck, former Spokesman editor and current Belo Distinguished Chair of Journalism at Southern Methodist University. The 55-page booklet also includes short essays written by members of Generation Y.
The Newspapers-in-Residence Program and the booklet were paid for by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.