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La Nación Launches College Paper

February 8, 2008
La Nación Group, Costa Rica’s largest media conglomerate, has launched a newspaper to target university students.
Called Vuelta en U – or “Around the U” – the paper comes out three times a week. It debuted last Friday.
The paper’s director, Aurelia Dobles, said 36,000 copies are being distributed at all La Nación Group (LNG) sales points within 1 km of universities throughout the country.
“It’s a newspaper with a very strong connection to the Internet,” Dobles said, noting that content is shared between the publication’s Web site, www.vueltaenu.co.cr, and the print version.
The new paper, which sells for 100 colones (or about $0.20) presents a foil to a student newspaper already on the market: El Semanario Universitario, a nonprofit funded by the University of Costa Rica.
With a circulation of about 9,000, the 37-year-old paper written by interns and journalism students got some press of its own during last year’s contentious Central American Free-Trade Agreement With the United States (CAFTA) referendum campaign when it printed a memorandum that led to the resignation of Vice President Kevin Casas.
Semanario Director Ana Incer Arias said she’s not afraid of LNG’s courting of the university crowd.
“The audiences are not the same. From the content of that newspaper, it’s directed at a young person that spends a lot, earns a lot, that thinks only about having fun.”
The two papers are a contrast. The Semanario typically offers a politically charged front page and long articles about, for example, Simone de Beauvoir. The Vuelta en U goes for a flashier look, featuring motocross and guitars on its front page, along with plenty of pictures, short stories and chattering graphics.
Dobles said she doesn’t see her product competing with Semanario because the Web site’s chat rooms and interactive features make Vuelta en U “such an innovative product, it competes with neither traditional media nor university media.
“We believe young people need more space for expression,” said Dobles, who spent the last 10 years working at La Nación, most recently editing the paper’s Ancora entertainment section.
Dobles’ staff is a few dozen, with four full-time journalists, two designers and two photographers. Staffers are both current and recent students, she said, and the paper will soon be seeking out correspondents at other universities around the country.
One thing it won’t have to worry about is funding. By Costa Rican standards, its parent company is loaded. Last year, LNG earned $9.3 million on $115.5 million in revenue.
LNG’s holdings include newspapers La Nación, Al Día, La Teja and El Financiero, as well as several glossy magazines and three radio stations.
Dobles said, “La Nación Group was clear that (university students) have a great potential for consuming many products, and that hasn’t been addressed in other niches of the group.”
 
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