Two things in the latest issue of Middlebury Magazine immediately snared my attention. First was that editor Matt Jennings had persuaded illustrator and cartoonist Ed Koren to draw the cover. Damn it to hell . . . I immediately fired off a note to Jennings, telling him what a punk he was for scoring a Koren cover. (I’ve now decided, on no evidence, that art director Pamela Fogg should get the credit for signing up Koren, and I feel much better.) The second thing was Jennings’ column, “Viewfinder,” in which he discusses a new survey of his magazine’s readers. Several of the survey’s findings leapt out:
- 95 percent of Middlebury readers read every or nearly every issue;
- 84 percent hold on to an issue for a month or more;
- 94 percent believe the magazine strengths their connection to Middlebury College.
And two more responses leapt out, did triple Salchows, then nailed landings in the center of my attention: 94 percent want to keep receiving the print edition, and 78 percent will only read it in print.
These data match closely the results of the other reader survey I’m most familiar with, that done by Johns Hopkins Magazine a couple of years ago. They’re also congruent with the findings of the CASE member magazine survey. The implications could not be clearer, yet we continue to hear of institutions forsaking print for pixelbits, killing single issues or entire print programs in favor of electronic editions and blogs. Latest victims were Dennis Smith and his staff at Innovate, the late print magazine of the engineering school at Iowa State, who lost their jobs when that publication went web-only. (See update from Dennis Smith in comments, below.)
Two other numbers that I love from the Middlebury survey: 79 percent of readers want stories about campus controversies (one of the highest rated categories, only six percentage points behind class notes!), while only 28 percent are interested in donor profiles. That chortling you hear is me.