Why We Did What We Did: A Readership Analysis of a Wildlife Conservation Magazine

According to the American Association for Conservation Information, 44 states now publish magazines that may be loosely categorized as "conservation" magazines. The range of specific types within this broad category is fantastic. The group includes rather technical publications on wildlife and fisheries management techniques and research projects, "slick" promotional and travel magazines, and those stressing the environmentalist approach. Almost without exception, they share one rather questionable quality — they are published without the benefit of knowledge of who the readers are. A number of questions can be applied with equal validity to any publication or group of publications. Who reads it? Why do they read it? How valuable is it to them? What do they particularly like or dislike about it? From the readers' point of view, what can be done to improve it? From the time it was first published in October of 1966 until early 1972, Georgia Game & Fish existed without the benefit of readership analysis. Outdoors in Georgia replaced Game & Fish with the July, 1972, issue. Content planning for the new magazine has been greatly facilitated by a readership analysis of Game & Fish subscribers conducted during the months immediately prior to its demise, and the results of the analysis justify the format of the new magazine. A survey was made of a stratified sample of Game & Fish paid subscribers to determine which portions of that publication subscribers read and valued, and to identify additional areas of interest to readers for future features. Almost 1600 questionnaires were mailed out, with over 60% being returned before the cut-off date (30 days after mailing). The unexpectedly high percentage of return assures an exceptionally high degree of accuracy. It is important to keep in mind that the survey population was constituted through a form of self-selection - subscribers unhappy with the content and format of Game & Fish would drop from the population by electing to not renew their subscription. Also, the population underwent continual self-randomization, by the process through which they were carried on the list of subscribers. Each new subscriber is placed on the computerized listing first by zip-code and then alphabetically within that zip-code class. Thus, viewing the whole population as a sequentially numbered roster, any subscriber had an equal likelihood of being at any regular, stipulated interval.

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