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22/11/2007 - par Mark Tungate

You've often heard me debating the future of newspapers in a digital world (if you haven't, where have you been ?). Now I've stumbled on an interesting new twist to the argument. Here's the deal. Young readers have grown up with free newspapers, right ? In fact, many of them have never paid for a newspaper in their lives. But what if we could make a newspaper so avant-garde and fascinating that they would agree to pay for it ? What if there's a whole generation of young people who are so blasés about the internet that they would find buying a newspaper cool, different and exciting ?

If you think that sounds stupid, just take a look at Next, a newspaper based in Rotterdam (www.nrcnext.nl). It launched in March 2006 and already it has 85,000readers - including 55,000 subscribers (abonnés) who say they've never had a newspaper delivered to their homes before. So what makes Next so great ? Well, first of all, it treats news differently - almost in the way a blogger might. Rather than reporting a gruesome murder, it reports on how the rest of the media covered the gruesome murder. That's clever, and it makes its readers feel clever too. An article on the future of the press in Monocle magazine neatly summed up the paper's appeal. A girl on the Rotterdam metro said that she was likely to be more attracted to a guy reading Next because that would mean he's intelligent, liberal - and not too mean to spend one euro on a decent newspaper.

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