Fædrelandsvennen creates free subscription programme for students

By Siri Andresen


Kristiansand, Norway


Access to credible news has become increasingly scarce for young people. In the past, newspapers were on the coffee table, and the evening news was on TV. Now, these information channels have largely been replaced by less credible sources on social media.

Young people must learn to distinguish between credible information and information that should be questioned. With that in mind, Fædrelandsvennen wants to promote healthier media habits by offering free subscriptions to all high school students.

So we teamed up with high schools and local businesses, and this is what happened:

  • Reaching young readers: FVN Youth has achieved concrete and solid results in increased reader engagement with a demographic all newsrooms struggle to reach. So far, we have logged in 2,300 students between 16 and 19 years old in Kristiansand, which corresponds to approximately 50% coverage within this target group. And, importantly, they use it to read news.
  • Amplifying young voices in public discourse: We have lowered the barrier for young voices to engage in media discussions, resulting in a significant increase in contributions from individuals under 20 years old, registering a 350% rise in opinion pieces.
  • Innovating journalism financing: There is growing evidence that we need to find new ways to finance journalism in the future. FVN Youth is funded by local contributors and foundations, setting an example of successful economic and social innovation.

Our approach

We provided students with their own subscriptions to fvn.no, financed by local businesses and foundations. We needed to develop an onboarding solution that ensured that those who register are actually students, while simultaneously further developing our digital newspaper to create a tailor-made user experience for the students.

We have divided them into their own segment, and for the first time, we have data on how teenagers read news articles; we have never had that many subscribers under the age of 20.

Two journalists prepare to meet with students in the classroom.
Two journalists prepare to meet with students in the classroom.

Our journalists visit them in their classrooms to inspire courage in expression and societal engagement. They also discuss source evaluation, press ethics, and the distinction between editor-led media and other sources that students use.

So far, we have visited approximately 120 school classes, representing more than half of all the classes in the high schools. The classroom visits have been a highly rewarding experience for all editorial staff members who have participated. We also find that both students and teachers appreciate this initiative.

We create targeted content and facilitate using our news content in teaching. We receive a lot of input, tips, and feedback on our journalistic content from our young audiences, which provides a new starting point to reach young people with topics that concern them.

Through the project, we have managed to finance five journalists — young journalists who create journalism for young people on their terms. And we can see that this works! The content is consumed, and it also sells subscriptions to “adults.”

We hold debate competitions and facilitate young people’s contributions of opinions on fvn.no. And most importantly: We show them how they can do it with us. We discuss how we handle opinion pieces, who receives them, and what happens afterwards.

What’s next

Collaboration with high schools and local contributors has been a game-changer for us. In the past eight months, we have achieved results we never would have imagined. We are currently planning the next stage in our project and are already looking forward to the next school year.

About Siri Andresen

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