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“It’s not all doom and crisis and hysteria”: Why The Week Junior is doing so well in 2020

This week, we hear from Anna Bassi, Editor in Chief of The Week Junior. They’ve had a milestone couple of months, recently releasing their 250th issue and increasing circulation during lockdown by 22% year on year.

She talks about why a print magazine for children is doing so well in 2020, how they approach really difficult topics like protests and pandemics, and how their podcast is doing a year on.

In the news roundup we take a look at the recent launches from Future plc, Reuters, Bloomberg and more, before rattling through the news in brief.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

Planning the launch

When we were planning the launch, there were lots of naysayers. Everybody said ‘It’s not digital, kids don’t read magazines anymore, they don’t care about the news, and everything they do is on a screen.’ And I think that while that was true to some degree, when it comes to reading, there is a big difference between reading on screen and reading in print.

What we’ve managed to do is provide a genuinely engaging and enjoyable experience, which is pitched perfectly for its readership who don’t really care whether they’re reading it on a screen or reading it on paper, it’s for them.

But what it really comes back to, quite honestly, I think is creating something which is absolutely 100% for its readers.

The advantage of subscriptions

Although it’s sold on newsstands, it is primarily a subscription product. So that means it comes to the post every week to a child. There is actually just something really special about that.

I think that it’s a habit that children have found very easy to get into, and something that they really look forward to. They enjoy reading it. Their parents see them enjoying reading it, and their parents will tell other parents about it, in the same way as the kids will tell their friends about it as well.

Explaining Brexit

We get a lot of parents and grandparents having a little read of it. We get a lot of feedback from parents to say, “Oh, they’ve explained Brexit far more clearly than any of the newspapers that we read. And I actually prefer reading The Week Junior to any other news source,” I think, partly because it’s really clearly explained, and partly because there is a sort of focus on more positive news as well.

So it’s not all doom and crisis and hysteria, we do place great value and put a lot of time into finding stories that demonstrate positivity and kindness and so on.

Approaching difficult topics

There are some stories perhaps that we wouldn’t report. But when it comes to those big stories, though, they’re all over the place, and [kids are] going to be exposed to them, they’re going to hear something about it. So our position is always to start by explaining exactly what’s going on, and explaining why it’s going on.

We don’t shy away from anything that’s difficult or potentially upsetting. But we are careful in terms of how we tell that. We stick to the facts, we provide the context; we can’t assume that our readers will always know the historical context to an event or the events leading up to it. So we always have to try and go back to the beginning and tell them what they need to know.

The Week Junior’s lockdown success

I suppose that I didn’t anticipate that at all. But it seems obvious in retrospect, that parents were looking for something to keep their children occupied and engaged. So I think it became, for all those kids who were suddenly not at school anymore – and a lot of them, perhaps not even having any sort of structured timetable of work to do – The Week Junior was something I think a lot of parents felt that children would enjoy it.

They would be reading, which is always going to be a good thing, and they can be learning in a way that they actually enjoy as well. So I think it’s just, it directly benefited from the need for something to fill those hours and to fill that gap. Fortunately, a lot of them seem to have stayed on with us. So it’s been really fantastic.

Republished with kind permission of Media Voices, a weekly look at all the news and views from across the media world.