World Young Reader Prize winners set high bar for news publishers’ youth engagement

Innovative news publishers from around the world with a commitment to youth engagement have been awarded a WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize for fostering a new generation of literate, civic-minded readers in their communities.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | September 22, 2014

Companies from 13 countries have been honoured for their efforts in implementing creative and valuable strategies that target and benefit their young audiences.

Among the recipients was Amedia – owner of 50 small newspapers in Norway – which has been named ‘News Publisher of the Year’ for putting young people at the centre of its overall readership strategy. Amedia was dubbed “one of the best long-term young readers programmes ever” by the selection panel.

Head of Amedia’s Analysis and Research, Anne Jacobsen, credits the project’s ‘precise and targeted’ design and development with a young-readers’ focus for the programme’s success. Their actions include studying the same 3,500 young people since 2008, a daily youth-enhancement tip for all the group’s editors, workshops and resources for using the news in education, and an annual Young Reader Conference for the group’s newspapers. Ultimately Jacobsen says this has led to high daily reach, satisfaction and loyalty among children, young adults and their families.

“We say that young reader programs are a ‘need to have’, not a ‘nice to have’, and that goes through the entire organization from top to bottom … do as Nike – just do it.”

She said a dedicated team working on the youth initiative, collaboration with universities, schools and research facilities, as well as young people directly, and a focus on content over platform are critical elements to ensuring a media organisation’s success with young readers.

“[This award] is a great inspiration for further young reader work. We already have new research going, and new projects on the drawing board. Elections are coming up in Norway, and we are planning great service to those who are voting for the first time,” she said.

Winner of the Top Award for ‘Public Service’, The Guardian UK has been recognised for its development of an interactive national newspaper website written by and for children.

The website provides a unique, international space for children up to their late teens to learn, interact with their favourite authors, write reviews, share creative writing pieces and exchange opinions on books and the media.

Books editor for Guardian News and Media, Claire Armistead said they started the project because they saw there was no place for children’s voices in newspapers – a move which has now given them access to a generation of young people from all continents of the world.

“The average age of newspaper readers in the UK is over 40,” she said. “There is a huge resistance to engaging with young people in the media, because it’s felt that newspapers are for adults – also because there’s thought to be no money in them, [but] you have to take the long view … we found that authors were so keen to talk directly to them that we immediately had a completely new financial model.”

“As we grew from a UK-based print product to an international web-based one, we realised that we had an unprecedented opportunity to reach the readers of our future.”

The international expansion model being pursued by The Guardian is also benefiting from the children’s book project. “As The Guardian expands around the world, we hope to expand our children’s membership too, with locally based groups who can report to us about the writers and issues that interest them, thus giving us an unprecedented international perspective.”

Executive Director of the Jakarta Post Foundation, Yulia Herawati has also embraced the importance of engaging with youth to build their future readership, while improving the literacy of their next generation.

Their project, the “Youth Speak Fun Day” won the ‘Playing with the News’ Top Award for its language festival of competitions, news simulations, games, performances and other entertainment to help strengthen the English reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of the region’s 15- to 17-year-olds.

Herawati said the project had increased the paper’s brand awareness while becoming one of the programmes supporting the government education system, giving English teachers new methods, and helping better integrate use of the English language among young Indonesians.

“Indonesia’s position is a country with one of the lowest levels of English proficiency and reading habits in South East Asia,” she said. “So students and teachers want to have it annually.”

She said the project was worth continuing in the hope of becoming a national movement organised and implemented by our Ministry of Education.

The full list of Prize recipients is featured below.

The World Young Reader Prizes are part of WAN-IFRA’s efforts to recognise, encourage and disseminate innovative ideas and thinking to help build stronger and vital news media.

The awards will be presented at the WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Summit and Ideathon from 24 to 26 November in Bali, Indonesia, a free event with admission open to all news publishers, with priority to WAN-IFRA members and past prize winners.



Amedia group (Norway) – Amedia’s multifaceted actions include studying the same 3500 youth since 2008, a daily youth enhancement tip for all the group’s editors along with a bi-annual compilation of global best, workshops and resources for using the news in education and an annual Young Reader Conference for the group’s newspapers.


Mindener Tageblatt (Germany) for Azubify – a multiplatform set of tools to help companies and youth connect for apprenticeships.


Volksblad (South Africa) for SkoolBLUES, interactive comic strip for teenagers.


VietnamPlus for “Rapping the News”. This special category award is supported by CCI and honors the news publisher that most creatively engages the young through mobile telephones, tablets and other digital devices.


The Star (Malaysia) for the R.AGE news and social media youth initiative that reinvented itself with an array of face-to-face initiatives.
Singapore Press Holdings 
(Singapore) for The Straits Times Schools Programme – a decade-old multifaceted youth engagement approach that continues to innovate.
Gazeta do Povo (Brazil) for the “Read and Think” news in education programme that continues to offer methods and solid, useful research.

The Mathrubhurni Daily 
(India) for a “Free The Tree” campaign by youth to stop advertisements being attached to trees.

Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag 
(Germany) for a Tablet Class program that offers equipment and training to raise awareness among students of news on tablet devices.


Jakarta Post [Foundation] (Indonesia) for “Youth Speak Fun Day”, a language festival of competitions, news simulations, games and entertainment to help strengthen the English skills of 15- to 17-year-olds.


The Guardian (UK) for a highly interactive children’s book website where children read, write and publish reviews, connect with other young readers and have face-to-face interview authors.


BRAND – SILVER AWARD 7days (The Netherlands) for a Teenager of the Year Award that honors seven adolescents who have had an impressive accomplishment, chosing final winner through online voting.

BRAND – SILVER AWARD Dainik Bhaskar Group (India) for the innovative update of its Brain Hunt II nationwide contest promoting knowledge, intelligence and imagination.

BRAND – SPECIAL MENTION Tampa Bay Times (USA) for its Fit4Allkids digital and print effort supported by a local hospital to encourage families and youth to make healthy lifestyle choices.

DIGITAL FIRST – SILVER AWARD United Daily News Group (Taiwan) for its simple but brilliant ‘One Picture, 5 Questions’ online activity.

DIGITAL FIRST – SPECIAL MENTION Heidenheimer Zeitung (Germany) for its 

EDITORIAL – SILVER AWARD Le Soir (Belgium) for it’s bold ’25 Years/25 Ans’ staffing and content move.

ENDURING EXCELLENCE (EDITORIAL) – SILVER AWARD Frankfurter Neue Presse, (Germany) for a “Young Newspaper” initiative that turns over one entire edition each year to youth ages 14 to 22.

ENDURING EXCELLENCE – SPECIAL MENTION L’Alsace (France) for two decades of Journalist d’Un Jour [Journalist for a Day], which helps the region’s secondary students get an unforgettable experience in doing both the journalism and marketing of news.

PUBLIC SERVICE – SILVER Die Presse (Austria) for its “Leseratte” – reading contest in elementary schools can win a reading session with a popular Austrian personality.

Note: Le Soir’s General Manager Didier Hamman will be on stage during the session How to prevent your newsroom culture blocking change at the 13th International Newsroom Summit during World Publishing Expo on 13 and 14 October 2014, in Amsterdam.

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