An important finding of the Impact study of readership
is that newspapers that operate in ways that put a high priority on
readers and customers have higher readership scores. That's a fine statistical
result, but for busy newspaper people it immediately raises the question,
"So what can we do about it?"
We at the Readership Institute were keen to find
out what the most reader-oriented Impact newspapers do, on the job,
every day, that is different from their peers. What do they look like,
feel like, behave like? How did they move from an internal to an external
Our resulting study, Putting
, looks at the 10 most
reader-oriented newspapers in the Impact
study to find out what they are like. The
top 10 newspapers share many practices in
the pre-eminent one being that the
publisher and his or her executive team
are wholly committed to putting readers and
customers first. This commitment permeates
the whole organization, from the overall
mission to, in some cases, individual performance
goals; from the way operating committee
meetings are conducted to discussion about
the next-day's paper around the newsroom
The newspapers have many more "best practices" in
common, practices that may give other newspapers ideas they can adapt
and use to become more reader-focused.
Becoming more reader-oriented means hiring
and training people who want to be and are
capable of being reader- or customer-focused
— something that has not been a priority
until now at many newspapers. As one editor
at a readership seminar said: "I want to
hire reader-oriented people, but where do
I start? What do I look for?" How
to Hire "Reader-Oriented" People
recommendations for how to screen and hire
for these qualities.
In addition, the Readership Institute has developed
a free online tool that will allow newspapers
to self-assess how reader-oriented they are,
and to compare their results with the industry
and similar-size newspapers. The Reader
Orientation Self Test
is similar to the survey
completed by participants in the Impact study
and comes with complete instructions.
In 2003 and 2006, the Readership Institute conducted follow-up surveys of reader orientation at the 100 Impact newspapers; the 2003 results are discussed in Readership
Orientation Pays Off in Higher Readership
and the 2006 survey in Newspapers Become More Reader-oriented
and Newspaper executives: Priorities and perspectives
In 2008, the Readership Institute returned to the 100 Impact newspapers and surveyed publishers about their "audience orientation
." The results are presented in the report "Newspapers inch forward on audience orientation
Newspapers inch forward on audience orientation - PDF
The 2008 tracking study of audience orientation at the Impact newspapers.
Audience orientation scale - PDF
Survey tool for measuring audience orientation.
Putting Readers First - PDF
Read the results of an in-depth study of the most reader-oriented newspapers:
how they create a newspaper focused on readers including stories
of real success.
to Hire "Reader-Oriented" People - PDF
can you find and hire reader-oriented employees in all departments?
This report offers insight into the process as well as practical
suggestions on how to do it better.
Orientation Self Test
an interactive online questionnaire designed to rate your newspaper.
Becoming Reader Oriented - PDF
the first report produced from Impact's study of reader orientation.
Published in January 2001, the report offers a snapshot of the newspaper
industry and explains what reader-orientation means.
Orientation Pays Off in Higher Readership - PDF
The 2003 tracking study of reader orientation at the Impact newspapers.
Newspapers Become More Reader-oriented - PDF
The 2006 tracking study of reader orientation at the Impact newspapers.
Newspaper executives: Priorities and perspectives - PDF
Read what the Impact newspaper executives had to say in 2006 about the challenges facing the industry and the changes they need to make.