This story is definitely a ray of hope for newspapers – but the race now is to see if they can get their online operations up and generating money in time to keep the house of cards of their print editions from completely imploding.   From the studies I’ve done for the NAA (soon to be published in their entirety in this space, I promise), the newspapers in the U.S. lag far, far behind their counterparts in Europe or even Latin America.

I’m not sure if that’s a function of how much more tightly the internet is integrated into society overseas, or (my guess) it’s that the penurious Boards of Directors here in the U.S. refuse to put a single nickel into innovation without there being 10,000 studies and focus groups and assessments and consultants, all to CYA their frightened, shivering, cowardly little-boy asses in the eventuality that the move they make doesn’t work out.  Because the one thing that can’t happen in Corporate America is to be accountable for a decision that doesn’t work out.

Overseas, that is not the defining characteristic.  They try new stuff every day.  Plenty of it doesn’t work out.  Rather than slipping into a protracted period of navel-gazing, where the person responsible is hunted down, smoked out of his hole and his skinned, salted hide is nailed to the boardroom wall, they just shrug and try the next thing.  Shit happens.  Next.

So with all the sturm und drang about how the young people are paying attention to the news, reading, all they do is watch Jon Stewart and think that’s Foreign Affairs Quarterly, blah blah frickedy blah … comes this stat:

And preliminary results of a second study, conducted by market research firm Scarborough Research, found more evidence that younger people are interested in news, just not the print version. The study found, for example, that 37 percent of adults who visited The Washington Post’s Web site in the past 30 days were ages 18 to 34, while only 26 percent of the newspaper’s print readers fall into the same age bracket.

According to NAA data culled from more than 100 newspapers in most major metropolitan markets, unique visitors to newspaper Web sites rose 21 percent from January to December last year. Younger demographic groups reading online editions helped local newspapers extend their reach beyond the print market by 14 percent among 25- to 34-year-olds and 9 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds, the NAA said in its report, released at its annual convention this week in Chicago.