WASHINGTON: In an effort to attract younger readers, Stars and Stripes plans to unveil a weekly supplement focused on entertainment and lifestyle.
The launch of Pulse, set for March 5, comes as thousands of the daily newspaper's readers prepare for a possible war with Iraq. Yet despite logistical hurdles in distribution and the distraction of an approaching conflict, Stripes is confident the 16-page supplement based on the alternative newsweekly model will catch on.
"Pulse is targeted at younger servicemen," said general manager Max Lederer. "We want to make sure we get to them."
The move is a notable change of tone for a traditionally staid publication aimed at the military. An under-30 editorial staff will fill the magazine, which will appear on Wednesdays, with features aimed at the 18- to 29-year-old male. This means entertainment listings, features on gadgets, advice columns, and, "lists, lists, and more lists," according to Washington bureau managing editor Doug Clawson. The first cover story is about girls who are attracted to tricked-out cars.
"It's a fast-moving read," Clawson said.
Pulse was conceived more than a year ago, when readership surveys indicated that the significant younger portion of Stripes' audience was being given short shrift.
"For the past few years, we knew we weren't doing as good a job as we could in serving the younger part of our market," said Roxanne Cooper, marketing manager of Stars and Stripes.
Although it got the go-ahead before war loomed, the worsening situation in Iraq has done nothing to derail the project.
Even without Pulse, the 60,000-circulation Stripes would face distribution challenges, especially in the Middle East. But there the newspaper is hoping to open forward printing locations.
Lederer dismissed any suggestion that this is an inappropriate time to launch such light fare. For the frontline serviceman, he envisions it as a"distraction from the pressures he feels day in and day out."