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Review readers surprised us

Review readers surprised us

Who says print is dead?

Certainly not the nearly 3,000 Review readers who responded to our latest readership survey. The on-line poll, conducted this summer, has yielded a wealth of data that we’re still in the process of analyzing. However, initial findings are gratifying and encouraging, especially for those people – me among them – who still like the old-fashioned feel of paper in our hands.

Despite the undeniable seismic shift that has millions of readers forsaking newspapers and many mainstream consumer magazines in favour of the Internet, all indications are that for now, at least, the Queen’s Alumni Review remains an important and effective alumni communications vehicle. It is also one of the most important conduits alumni have for keeping in touch with one another.

Fully 87 per cent of our survey respondents say they read every issue of the Review, while more than 77 per cent tell us the magazine remains their primary source of information for news about the University and their classmates.

Breaking down the numbers reveals that “people news” is the most magazine’s most avidly read content. As has been the case since our first issue appeared in March of 1927, the Keeping in Touch (KIT) notes remain number one in that regard; 78 per cent of readers perusing the KIT pages in every issue.

Alumni Spotlight articles are in second spot on the popularity list (56 per cent), with Letters to the Editor (55 per cent) third. Almost half of all respondents read the Quid Novi campus news pages (49.6 per cent), while almost 40 per cent of readers regularly give the Principal’s column a look.

The numbers also suggest our survey respondents are happy with the “overall quality” of the Review; a solid 87 per cent give the magazine a grade of excellent (32.9 per cent) or good (54.7 per cent). Asked to rate the “credibility” of the Review’s content, more than 90 per cent of respondents say it is excellent (45.2 per cent) or good (45.2 per cent).

The survey data we’ve deciphered so far has yielded two surprises.

One is that more than 54 per cent of readers advise us that when we launch a new, improved Review home page early in the New Year – as we plan to do – it should serve as a complement to the print edition, not as a replacement.

The other revelation: one in four survey respondents say they have no interest whatsoever in reading the Review online and “will probably never visit the Review web site.”

Given that this was an online survey and that those readers who made the effort to respond are tech savvy (almost 50 per cent of them say they use Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels, while 94.2 per cent are online daily), this bit of information caught us off guard.

The truth to what seems to be a contradiction may lie in the demographic profile of Review readers, 55.2 per cent of whom graduated in 1983 or earlier – meaning they’re age 40+. We know that a slight majority of them are female, most live in Ontario (Ottawa and Toronto primarily), and that 77 per cent of them earned an undergraduate degree at Queen’s.

Our survey also included several open-ended questions, which gave respondents an opportunity to air their opinions and offer suggestions. As mentioned earlier, we’re still sorting and analyzing all the data of that we’ve collected. As we go forward, we’ll use it all in our ­efforts to further improve the Review – both the print and on-line editions – and to keep it relevant, timely, and interesting to you and other readers. It is, after all your magazine.

Thanks everyone who took the time to answer our survey, and congratulations to the three lucky alumni whose names were chosen at random from a list of survey respondents who entered their names into our prize draw.

The winners of Queen’s fleece throws are: Diana Davis Duerkop, Arts’62, PHE’63, Kingston, ON; Darren Morita, Sc’97, Artsci’98, Mississauga, ON; and Faye Sandilands, Arts’57, ­Nepean, ON.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2009-4 cover]