Commitment to Print: Nichols News Prepares for Expansion

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In its third year of existence, Nichols News is ripe for expansion. The primarily digital entity figures that 2014 is the right time to launch a regular print edition. In an effort to discover more about their potential audience, a newly released survey compares the tendencies of underclassmen (9th and 10th grade) with those of upperclassmen (11th and 12th grade).

It is no secret that the 21st century has ushered in sweeping changes in the media industry. Would Nichols School students still take the time to read a print publication? Recent data suggests that interest levels vary based on grade level. Although the median projected reading time is the same (10 minutes) and the median is quite similar (12.9 minutes for underclassmen and 12.8 minutes for upperclassmen) for both sets of the student population, the spread differs greatly. 9th and 10th grade responses saw a much larger spread in potential reading time than did the 11th and 12th grade responses: a middle 50% range of 14 minutes for underclassmen and a middle 50% range of 5 minutes for upperclassmen. Thus, the older members of the Nichols community answered with a much higher degree of consistency. The above graph shows a symmetrical distribution around 10 minutes for upperclassmen vs. a multimodal distribution with no clear center for underclassmen.

One possible explanation for the disparity in responses lies in time management techniques. After two years in upper school, juniors and seniors know how to efficiently plan their day. As a result, upperclassmen should be able to answer the question about reading time of a Nichols News print edition with higher certainty. On the flip side, freshmen and sophomores are still adjusting to a new school community. They are finding their way. While upperclassmen may feel like they know the school like the back of their hand, many younger students are still operating in unfamiliar territory. Onlookers surmise that the wider spread in responses amongst underclassmen could be due to the fact that they may not yet have the tools to best answer the question.

So why does Nichols News want so badly to exist in physical form? What is the motivation for investing time and energy into producing a 6 or 8 page issue? According to editor-in-chief Alex Fisher, it is all in an effort to help Nichols School students understand “the art of journalism.” By providing a curated collection of articles, the editors of Nichols News aim to provoke thoughtful discussion about developments on campus, in the city of Buffalo, and beyond. The results of the survey provide valuable information about the habits of the target audience of Nichols News. For Fisher & company, the next step is to create fresh content for their hungry readership.

By Alex Fisher ’15

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