Media / Talk of the Trade: Who reads the 240 sections?

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The Independent Online
REMEMBER when a newspaper was a single, self-contained object? Today, especially at the weekend, when you pick up your paper at the newsagent you may be asked to assemble it from a range of component sections, like do-it-yourself furniture. Do readers like this development? Do they see the sections as a quick way of finding what they want and discarding the rest? Do they understand what goes in which section?

These questions are being addressed in new research commissioned by the National Readership Survey (NRS), the industry body that measures readership, as opposed to circulation. It is being carried out at the behest of advertisers, anxious to learn which bits of the paper are perused by most readers. According to the NRS, at the last count the 22 national daily and Sunday papers sported 240 sections (including those such as business news, which are not necessarily bound separately). Of these, seven carried the word 'review' in the title.

'We want to know how readers identify these sections,' says Roger Beeson, NRS managing director. 'Do they, for example, understand what 'tabloid' means? When we've found out how they recognise them, we can go on to measure their readership.'