This is a report on focus group feedback about The Sheffield Star. According to the Newspaper Readership Report for May 2016, The Star is read by 64409 adults of which men are 33167 and women are 31241. There are 10187 of the age group of 15-24 in total who read the newspaper. This is the focus group report to improve and increase the amount of 15-24 aged readers.
The questions given to them were:
- What do you like about the Sheffield Star?
- What don’t you like?
- What other news media do you look at?
- How can the Star be improved to attract more 16-25 year olds?
- Give a suggestion for the name of the new ‘Teen Spread’.
Firstly, what they liked about the Sheffield Star is that for their age group of 15-24 their interests in this newspaper were very low. However, certain pages stood out more than the others such as a cartoon on page 16 was mentioned and classed as “funny content” to the groups. It reflected the news subject in an interesting way. The groups also mentioned they enjoyed reading their horoscopes and that the advertisements did not get in the way of important news stories.
The Star had a sports pull-out which the males in the groups found interesting and the females avoided completely. The advantages of the pull-out is that if the reader doesn’t enjoy this particular content they can remove it from the newspaper.
Next, they discussed what they don’t like about the Sheffield Star. They analysed the newspaper and thought The Star “didn’t give enough space for the important news” Abby, 17. An example of this is where, in their opinion the double page spread used for the stuffed animals news should have been used for a news more important such as the murder case which was only allocated half a page. More on what the groups disliked; that it is aimed at an older audience and mainly towards the male gender and that the front page is not eye-catching with a bland masthead.
The groups discussed what other media they look at and unsurprisingly, most of them were on mobile phones and social media sites such as; the Star shared by others on social media, Apple news, Twitter and Snapchat. Websites such as BBC and Telegraph were also mentioned.
The focus groups gave some ideas on how the Star can be improved to attract more 16-25 year olds. They mentioned if the newspaper changed the basic layout to something more attractive and included more content to interest the age group or presented the content in a different way such as the cartoon they liked. They also mentioned that The Star could put stories into sections for example, sections dedicated to young people, film reviews, beauty reviews etc. The groups want the newspaper to be less formal and involve less irrelevant political news to attract audiences their age. The image quality was also mentioned to be pixelated which is something that should be improved.
Abby, student at Hillsborough College, also said: “They’re trying to entertain rather than inform the audience, they don’t have a purpose.” The groups want the Star to add interesting content such as offers and vouchers for students, recipes, funny articles/stories and be more appealing to females.
The front cover was said to be out-dated and more appealing to the male audience due to the green theme and football which doesn’t appeal to female audiences as much.
The most popular name suggestions for the new ‘Teen Spread’ were:
- Hashtag: (month)
So, the Journalism groups at Hillsborough College have voted on which is their favourite via @Sheffjournos on Twitter.
My three article ideas to improve The Star are:
- Halloween makeup/nails- to interest females more
- Photographs and articles about car meets in and around Sheffield- to interest males in the age group of 15-24
- Why you should read the stories in Discover on Snapchat- to add social media content to attract both males and females