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How important is a university magazine?
Vital, in terms of keeping our readers connected to the University of Cincinnati, you recently told us.
According to two readership surveys, 88 percent of our readers who responded obtain at least half of their university information about UC from "Horizons," and 79 percent said the magazine makes them feel more in touch with their alma mater. The results came from a brief survey published on a postcard in the last magazine and a lengthy one conducted on the magazine's Web site through the end of December.
Altogether, we received approximately 450 responses, roughly an equal number from both surveys, from 26 states and overseas. A synopsis follows:
- Overall quality -- 97 percent of our respondents say the magazine presents a "good" or "excellent" overall impression
- Specific qualities -- 93 to 97 percent cast "good" or "excellent" votes for each category listed: design, cover, readability, photography, length of articles and number of pages
- "Horizons Online" -- 95 percent have either a "good" or "excellent" overall impression of the online magazine
- Magazine's shelf life -- 91 percent keep the magazine for a week or longer and 33 percent either keep it indefinitely or pass it along to someone else
- Quantity read -- 68 percent read at least half of the last issue, which focused on medical research
- Normal reading habits -- 87 percent normally read at least a third of the magazine's 40 pages
- Local impact -- 86 percent of Cincinnati readers receive at least half of their university information from the magazine, an impressive number considering the local audience is exposed to far greater media coverage of UC
- Reader interest in subject matter
72 percent are interested in reading about campus life and construction.
Next popular are general-interest features, followed by university history and Bearcat sports, which tied.
News items, research, events and profiles are in the middle.
Faculty news, class notes, student news, legislation affecting UC, philanthropy and fund-raising are least popular.
- Favorite articles in the last issue -- Readers frequently cited all the standard departments, plus every story in the issue received at least one vote as someone's favorite.
What do all those results mean? Does this "popularity test" mean "Horizons" magazine will never again carry faculty news or stories about legislation that could affect the University of Cincinnati?
Of course, not. We will still provide news, but we can try to present it in a way that most interests you. That research article, for example, had better be packaged as a human-interest feature, preferably with a historical sidebar.
Furthermore, we now know that some national statistics simply do not work for us. A major national survey prepared by Mediamark Research a few years ago showed university-magazine readers have little interest in campus life, construction and sports, but extremely high interest in research. Not so at UC. Not even close.
And do we feel good enough about those "quality" results to become complacent? Not a chance. With nearly 5,000 new graduates every year, our readership is constantly changing. We hope to do the same. Thanks to your input, we can.
By the way, Rick Smith Jr. of Wyoming won the free weekend at the Kingsgate Conference Center for completing the online survey.