This week, we hear from Anna Bassi, Editor in Chief of The Week Junior. They’ve had a milestone couple of months, recently releasing their 250th issue and increasing circulation during lockdown by 22% year on year. She talks about why a print magazine for children is doing so well in 2020, how they approach really difficult topics like protests and pandemics, and how their podcast is doing a year on.
In the news roundup we take a look at the recent launches from Future plc, Reuters, Bloomberg and more, before rattling through the news in brief.
See the full transcript here, or highlights below:
Planning the launch
When we were planning the launch, there were lots of naysayers. Everybody said ‘It’s not digital, kids don’t read magazines anymore, they don’t care about the news, and everything they do is on a screen.’ And I think that while that was true to some degree, when it comes to reading, there is a big difference between reading on screen and reading in print.
What we’ve managed to do is provide a genuinely engaging and enjoyable experience, which is pitched perfectly for its readership who don’t really care whether they’re reading it on a screen or reading it on paper, it’s for them.
But what it really comes back to, quite honestly, I think is creating something which is absolutely 100% for its readers.
The advantage of subscriptions
Although it’s sold on newsstands, it is primarily a subscription product. So that means it comes to the post every week to a child. There is actually just something really special about that.
I think that it’s a habit that children have found very easy to get into, and something that they really look forward to. They enjoy reading it. Their parents see them enjoying reading it, and their parents will tell other parents about it, in the same way as the kids will tell their friends about it as well.
We get a lot of parents and grandparents having a little read of it. We get a lot of feedback from parents to say, “Oh, they’ve explained Brexit far more clearly than any of the newspapers that we read. And I actually prefer reading The Week Junior to any other news source,” I think, partly because it’s really clearly explained, and partly because there is a sort of focus on more positive news as well.
So it’s not all doom and crisis and hysteria, we do place great value and put a lot of time into finding stories that demonstrate positivity and kindness and so on.
Approaching difficult topics
There are some stories perhaps that we wouldn’t report. But when it comes to those big stories, though, they’re all over the place, and [kids are] going to be exposed to them, they’re going to hear something about it. So our position is always to start by explaining exactly what’s going on, and explaining why it’s going on.
We don’t shy away from anything that’s difficult or potentially upsetting. But we are careful in terms of how we tell that. We stick to the facts, we provide the context; we can’t assume that our readers will always know the historical context to an event or the events leading up to it. So we always have to try and go back to the beginning and tell them what they need to know.
The Week Junior’s lockdown success
I suppose that I didn’t anticipate that at all. But it seems obvious in retrospect, that parents were looking for something to keep their children occupied and engaged. So I think it became, for all those kids who were suddenly not at school anymore – and a lot of them, perhaps not even having any sort of structured timetable of work to do – The Week Junior was something I think a lot of parents felt that children would enjoy it.
They would be reading, which is always going to be a good thing, and they can be learning in a way that they actually enjoy as well. So I think it’s just, it directly benefited from the need for something to fill those hours and to fill that gap. Fortunately, a lot of them seem to have stayed on with us. So it’s been really fantastic.
- Reuters launches ‘The Great Reboot,’ a section dedicated to the future of the workplace
- Future launches global digital lifestyle brand My Imperfect Life
- Bloomberg Media launches personal finance site Wealth
- The Independent launches new Spanish-language website in the US
- Axios launches Axios Local; daily, early-morning newsletters to help readers get smarter about their hometowns
- Axios is growing and profitable, despite bleak news landscape
News in brief:
- Google is going to spend $1 billion over the next three years paying publishers for their news. The money will license publishers’ content for a new feature in Google News called Google News Showcase.
- Owner of The Daily Mash Digitalbox has bought student news network The Tab for £750,000. It’s a far cry from the dizzy heights of The Tab’s valuation in 2017, when it received £4.5m in investment.
- A year into new ownership, Sports Illustrated’s earnings have doubled through licensing deals. The publication had been losing millions of dollars in ad revenue in previous years, but is now apparently profitable since its acquisition by ABG in May last year.
- Verizon is searching for a buyer for HuffPost, which it acquired back in 2015 as part of its $4.4 billion purchase of AOL. Losses are apparently accelerating due to coronavirus, which is prompting a frantic attempt to offload the site.
- Reach has bounced back from a ‘disastrous start’ to 2020 after profits dived in the first half of the year. Digital advertising has now had a strong recovery, and audience engagement was also on the up.
- Twitter quite rightly took a pasting late this week, after it announced that anyone wishing Covid death upon Trump would be suspended. Cue the flood of users sharing examples of death threats directed at themselves, to which Twitter had turned a blind eye even when the threats had been reported.
- New York magazine has published a very in-depth analysis into Troy Young’s ignominious exit from Hearst, which is worth a read in its own right for the hilarious final paragraph. However, it also begs the question… what now for Hearst?
Our daily newsletter The Media Roundup brings you the four most important industry stories for media and publishing professionals. Subscribe here: