When JP/Politikens Hus launched a newspaper for children in 2018, it wanted to stay true to its print DNA while providing young readers with the digital experience they’re accustomed to. Børneavisen, a 24-page weekly newspaper targeting children between the ages of 9 and 12, has successfully bridged print and digital by embracing both formats.
The child-targeted newspaper, which covers many of the same topics found in the traditional newspaper but makes the topics more reader-friendly for kids, celebrated its two-year anniversary in September and continues to enjoy an expanding subscription base. Part of that success is owed to the data-driven approach taken to develop the product.
“The target and age group was a complex decision which drove a lot of involvement of children and other sources of business data,” explained Louise Abildgaard Grøn, editor-in-chief and director of Børneavisen. “This forced us to be very crisp on the business goals as well as the touch and feel of the actual paper.”
Recognising that children live in a much different world than adults, they intentionally set out to create a lasting, quality experience for the readers.
“From the beginning, we saw this product as something more than ‘quick consumption.’ We print on thicker paper with better colouring to emphasise joy and fun and to provide a better basis for illustrations and images.”
But the print product is also a gateway to a digital universe. Print articles are embedded with a QR code young readers can scan with their phone or tablet to gain access to additional related information. Readers can also sign up to become reporters for a day and can even write directly to the staff with story ideas.
Additionally, there are contests, polls, and quizzes that let them give their opinions and make sure their voices are heard.
Coverage in the age of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges as well as new opportunities for Børneavisen.
“Initially, it was clear that children had a lot of concerns about the new situation. We really felt an obligation to provide some clear answers in a way that was easy for children to understand and accept,” Abildgaard Grøn said.
“One action in this respect was to make the digital version of the printed paper accessible to all, regardless of subscription. That generated a lot of traffic and exposure and became a good business decision.”
Overall, their subscription base grew by 25% during Denmark’s lockdown and their churn rate has decreased.
As the pandemic wore on, Abildgaard Grøn said, they saw a lot of information pouring out from the health authorities and politicians, but it was rarely targeted toward children.
“Our digital app became a powerful tool when we encouraged the children to pose their own questions and doubts through it,” she said. “It gave us a quick channel to pick up on the most pressing issues. We linked child reporters with serious topics and engaged directly with several key health officials and political leaders.”
The lockdown forced Børneavisen to revise some plans, such as events and partnerships. But at the same time, Abildgaard Grøn said they are seeing greater engagement and involvement among young readers.
“Children don’t distinguish between whether a platform is physical or digital as long as it is interesting, entertaining, and useful. Grown-up media experts, on the other hand, tend to get caught up in that divide,” she said. “We like to see our product as a needed supplement and emotional space next to, but in tune with, the digital.
“Learning about stuff will never go out of fashion.”