We need to read more! Says…who?

By Gabriella Smith

Gabriella Smith, Account Executive

Gabriella Smith, Account Executive

It’s a truly worrying fact that 5.2 million adults in England can be described as ‘functionally illiterate’, which means they wouldn’t pass an English GCSE and have the same or lower literacy levels expected of an 11-year-old.

It looks like things are only set to get worse as it is estimated that by 2015 almost 1.5 million 11-year-olds won’t be able to read properly, unless action is taken.

Well, stop the press! A national newspaper is attempting to fix the problem. Perhaps surprisingly that paper is…The Sun.

The Sun, working with Save The Children, has launched a campaign called ‘Little Stories from Big Stars’ in the hope that adults will encourage their children to read for ten minutes a day, every day. Every Saturday, The Sun will now feature a double-page spread written by children’s authors, which will hopefully encourage more children to pick up the paper and read.

With The Sun being a red top newspaper, its content is never going to equate to the in-depth articles of a broadsheet, so the fact that the paper is encouraging people to read more, may come as a surprise. However, its sheer power is undeniable – it is the UK’s largest circulation newspaper, with a readership of over 5 million – so if anyone has the potential reach to help improve our children’s literacy, it’s them.

The campaign could also be the paper’s latest attempt to position itself as ‘less old fashioned’ following a recent series of tweets from Rupert Murdoch, hinting that the controversial page 3 is actually ‘old fashioned’.

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‘Little Stories from Big Stars’ is also a great example of how newspapers themselves use PR as a handy tool to spur on readership and in The Sun’s case – attempt to alter negative perceptions of the paper. With a lot of negativity surrounding The Sun recently following the Tulisa Contostavlos case which led to the suspension of the investigative reporter, Mazer Mahmood, the paper itself could do with having something positive said about it. Generally people either love or hate The Sun, and it’s tough to alter the opinions of those who hate it. Having said that, the campaign seems to be working so far; even competitors such as The Guardian are putting in a good word about it.

The fact alone that a red top newspaper has launched a campaign like this demonstrates the power of PR and how it can make us sway from our resolute opinions. Though it might not change opinions of The Sun completely, it certainly shows the paper is trying to do good, albeit with doubtless commercial cultivations. As the campaign only launched last week, it’s hard to say whether it has been a success or not as yet, but it will certainly be turning a few heads…

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