The American Society of Newspaper Editors is trying to find out what people want in a newspaper. It is worried about declines in readership—78 percent of adults read newspapers in 1970, compared to 55 percent last year. So far, it appears people want better service, more local news, reader-friendly presentations (graphics and narrative-style articles), and advertising. “Intensely local, people-centered news ranks at the top of the list of content items with the greatest potential to increase overall readership,” says the Readership Institute based at Northwestern University, which is conducting the research.
Better coverage of national and international events and more investigative journalism are not necessarily what readers want. And newspapers feel pressured to give people more of what they want.