We wanted to see if we were right. In the March 22 and April 19 issues of the Observer we printed the 1985 Reader Survey, asking the kinds of questions advertising executives base their decisions on, and also a few to satisfy our own curiosity about who reads the Observer and what they are thinking. Nearly a thousand of you took time to fill out the survey and slip it in the mail; we appreciate that effort very much. “Observer readers” or “subscribers” in Eighty-five percent of Observer readers have finished college; nearly half the readers are between 25 and 44 years of age. this report refers to survey participants, who seem to us a microcosm of our readership. It took some time to sort through the responses and compile the results more than a few of you had a lot to say. One woman wrote that she “considers firms which advertise with you to be ‘my kind of folks.’ ” Such loyalty was apparent in many of your surveys, and we hope to persuade businesses and ad agencies that you’ll respond to their ads. We will ask them to consider that 77 percent of you will support businesses because they advertise in the Observer. We’ll point out that you visit restaurants for nearly one out of every three dinners. You drink beer with great regularity; wine too, and other alcohol a little less, but frequently. One reader who drank wine 30 times a month says he now has stopped drinking “for indefinite time maybe a pertinent reaction to the DWI I got after drinking too much at the Red Scare autograph party at Scholz’s” \(co-sponsored by the Observer readers attend ballet, thea ter, concerts, and art openings at least once a month and go to the movies every other week. They exercise every three days. They camp or hike monthly. An educated group, they purchase books often. Fifty-three percent have received a postgraduate degree, another 16 percent have completed some postgraduate work, and 85 percent have finished college. More than 65 percent earn an annual income of $30,000 or more. You hold all manner of jobs. The largest number of readers, 17 percent, describe themselves as researchers. Researchers? Twelve percent work in education. About nine percent are attorneys, seven percent communications and media workers. Eleven percent are retired. People in social services and in politics make up about four percent each, and the rest of the subscribers are varied in profession. Engineers, artists, religious workers, librarians, bankers, and so on. There is a physician between 55 and 64 years old who bicycles to work daily, who does not use a car. There is a farmer with a postgraduate degree, supporting a household of four, who makes less than $0 in a bad year and not much in a good year. Ad agencies want to reach babyboomers, and many of you are. Nearly half our readers are between the ages of 25 and 44; 16 percent are between 45 and 54; 16 percent are between 55 and 64, and 17 percent are 65 or over. Many of the older readers have subscribed to the Observer since the 1950s and are proud to tell us so. Not everyone feels this way. In one of our postpaid return envelopes we received this message: “Goodbye forever. I have decided to join the politics of greed.” And some of our long-time readers seem a little weary of resisting the mass drift to the right. A 62-year-old woman whose “72year-old husband runs four miles a day and works out” describes her political orientation as “depressed.” On the other hand, a retired woman who calls herself “very liberal” told us,”It’s time to quit being polite,” and a retired army man says he reads the Observer because it’s “the best journal of truth in Texas it inspires me to keep up the fight for a more humane state and country.” Ninety-two percent of our subscribers always vote. One “old liberal” did confess to missing “one school board election in 1954.” Many Observer readers, 45 percent, describe themselves as “liberals.” Sixteen percent are liberal Democrats, 17 percent are moderate Democrats, and four percent are Republicans. About “Goodbye forever. I have decided to join the politics of greed.” four percent are socialists; three percent are conservatives. Among other readers we found a lively assortment of political identities, such as faint-hearted liberal, Green, liberal to radical lesbian mother, scared!, unrealistically hopeful, radical religious, bourgeois liberal, feminist, populist, communist, anti-communist, and radical left, to name only a few. One “CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN!” asks us, “What is wrong with doing ALL of your own yard and rose garden work?” He reads the Observer, he says, “to educate myself about contrary opinion!” “Your articles are important,” says another, “though I must wade through your views.” A police officer tells us his political orientation is “flagwaving redneck American and damned proud of it!!” He says we give too little credit to “AngloSaxon, native-born Texas white men who are citizens also.” Most of our readers are substantially more eloquent, however, even when they don’t agree with our coverage. One man said that by including poetry, fiction, and all other “non-informative creative writing” we are “fiddling while Austin burns.” Another reader says THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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