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Good News Magazine Reader Survey

GN reader survey provides positive feedback

Starting with the May-June issue of The Good News, we plan to do a regular online survey of readers to seek their feedback on the magazine.

In mid-May we posted an online survey and sent an e-mail to GN readers asking them to participate. The first 600 responses were tabulated and showed a very positive attitude toward the magazine (somewhat to be expected, since this was a voluntary survey).

Following is a summary of the survey feedback:

  • 83% said they were satisfied with the Good News magazine; 16% were fairly satisfied; only 1% were not very satisfied or not satisfied at all. Very similar percentages found it helpful or not helpful.
  • 60% rated the May-June issue excellent; 27% rated it above average; 12% rated it good and only 1% rated it below average or disappointing.
  • 93% of respondents had read the cover article on the Middle East. Even for the least-read article, 40% of respondents said they had read it. Most respondents had read 60 to 80 percent of the articles in the latest issue.
  • 48% said they read each issue cover to cover; 36% said they read most articles; 14% said they read some articles and only 2% said they skim the magazine or don’t read it.
  • 79% of respondents had requested or downloaded one or more booklets and 77% had visited the Good News Web site in the last six months.
  • 77% took the time to write personal comments, which were overwhelmingly positive and appreciative.
  • Respondents were 60% male and 40% female.
  • Age breakdown of respondents was 1% under 20; 3% 21-30; 10% 31-40; 21% 41-50; 30% 51-60; 23% 61-70; 11% 71-80 and 2% over 80.
  • 24% had subscribed less than one year; 24% had subscribed for 1 to 2 years; 16% had subscribed for 2 to 3 years; 28% had subscribed for more than 3 years and 8% read it online only.

The types of articles responders said they were “very interested” in were ranked as follows:

  1. Bible prophecy — 92%
  2. Bible history/background — 87%
  3. Bible doctrine — 81%
  4. World news analysis — 79%
  5. Christian living —  74%
  6. Practical help/guidance —  52%
  7. Social issues analysis — 52%
  8. Family issues —  49%
  9. Marriage —  45%
  10. Parenting/child-rearing — 33%
  11. Youth/teenagers — 28%

A few overall conclusions based on the above:

  • Readers, at least those who responded to this survey, are quite pleased with the magazine and say it is helpful to them.
  • They read a large amount of the content, which indicates that we are giving them the kind of material they want to read.
  • Our overall emphasis of explaining world events in light of Bible prophecy and discussing Bible doctrine and teachings is on target and meeting readers’ wants.
  • This shows that our media outreach needs to include both print and Web-based efforts, as a large number of subscribers utilize both rather than one or the other.

Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News

June 7, 2010 - Posted by | Good News Magazine, Home Office, Media and Communications |

6 Comments »

  1. What percentage of the Good News magazine is subscribed to by non-church members?

    Comment by Victor Goforth | June 7, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Victor,

      Three to four percent of Good News subscribers are members of the United Church of God. So, between 96 and 97 percent are non-Church members.

      Comment by United Church of God | June 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi Scott–

    With the understanding that any survey is limited in what it can ask and that all data is subject to the interpretation of the poll taker, I would be interested in knowing:

    How does this survey compares with any similar surveys that might have been done in the past?

    How large was the sample polled?

    What percentage of the survey repondents were Church members as oppossed to the general public?

    What, if any, plans are there to modify the general content of the magazine?

    Is the overall purpose of the Good News Magazine suppossed to be preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People, an infomercial for other printed publications of the UCGIA Inc., or more exactly what?

    My overall impression of the GN is that it is this specific lack of clear focus that makes it seem like a catch-all trying to be all things to all people.

    It’s all good stuff individually–but do we really need it mixed like some small child’s plate with a little bit of this and a little bit of that all squished together in a great big mound of unappetizing goo?

    Kudos to yourself and all the others who work very hard to put the GN and all the other publications together. I have no solutions to the issues I raise pose them in the hope that by doing so a broader discussion of purpose(s) and approach(s) by yourself and the rest of the publishing staff might ensue.

    Thanks for listening–

    Tim McCaulley
    Jacksonville FL

    Comment by Tim McCaulley | June 7, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hi Tim,

    Some answers to your questions:

    “How does this survey compares with any similar surveys that might have been done in the past?”

    We have not done surveys of the general readership in the past. We have surveyed members’ attitudes toward the GN (and other media efforts), but not the general readership. One reason we want to begin surveys after each issue is to build some data over time to see if and how it changes.

    We have discussed doing surveys for several years, but various problems and limitations prevented it before now. Most recently, it took us quite a while to build a base of e-mail addresses to be able to contact readers in this way.

    “How large was the sample polled?”

    Strictly speaking, they weren’t polled in the normal sense of the word. For a year or so we have been sending a biweekly e-newsletter to all GN subscribers for whom we have e-mail addresses, and we mentioned the survey in the mind-May e-newsletter sent to 39,002 e-mail addresses. Of that number, 9,008 opened the e-mail. (I’m told that large numbers are never received or opened due to spam filters and the like.) From that number who opened the e-newsletter, 845 opened the survey and participated. The software tabulates the first 600 responses only. Again, this is not a strictly scientific survey, but a voluntary one.

    Having said that, this is a sizable response. Normally a magazine would only need about 200-300 responses, as statistically speaking, after that you’re simply adding more of the same data and not really learning anything new.

    “What percentage of the survey repondents were Church members as oppossed to the general public?”

    We did not ask that on this survey, but will likely add a category about religious affiliation on the survey after the next issue.

    “What, if any, plans are there to modify the general content of the magazine?”

    A primary purpose of the surveys is to see what readers are most interested in. These results show us that our current readers are heavily interested in world events, prophecy and Bible teachings. This also corresponds closely with the popularity of our various booklets.

    If there was one surprise to me in the results, it is that of 11 categories of articles that we run, half or more of the readers were “very interested” in eight of the 11 categories. For simplicity’s sake I didn’t add in the “fairly interested” percentages, but when they’re included the total jumps to great than 70 percent interest for all 11 categories. All in all, this tells me that we are giving current readers what they want—unless it’s even more discussion of prophecy and current events.

    “Is the overall purpose of the Good News Magazine suppossed to be preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People, an infomercial for other printed publications of the UCGIA Inc., or more exactly what?”

    It serves many complementary purposes. The primary one is preaching the gospel—showing why the world is in the mess that it’s in and how and why that must change. It teaches what true biblical Christianity is, in contrast to what most people think it is. It offers practical help and encouragement in applying biblical principles in everyday life and relationships. It helps explain the Bible. It points people to our other resources—Web sites, booklets, World News and Prophecy, Beyond Today and Vertical Thought—so they can learn more about the aspects of our message that most interest them.

    “My overall impression of the GN is that it is this specific lack of clear focus that makes it seem like a catch-all trying to be all things to all people.
    It’s all good stuff individually–but do we really need it mixed like some small child’s plate with a little bit of this and a little bit of that all squished together in a great big mound of unappetizing goo?”

    One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that different aspects of our message appeal to different people. When United first started, I did a little experiment (and you might want to try this yourself). I asked a number of members what it was that first caught their interest and go them interested in the truth. The answers varied widely.

    For some it was prophecy. For some it was health issues like diet, agriculture and pollution. For some it was marriage and/or family relationships. For some it was learning the truth about Christmas or Easter. For some it was the Sabbath vs. Sunday. For some it was whether a dead loved one went to heaven or hell. For some it was what is the meaning of life? The answers were simply all over the map. So while it may seem that our content is all over the map, it’s really trying to systematically hit a number of subjects to catch those different topics that people are interested in.

    Thanks for the good questions, Tim. Lots of good food for thought.

    Comment by Scott Ashley | June 7, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thank you for all of this, Mr. Ashley. I find all of this information fascinating, and it is good to see that the Good News is being well received. The only criticism of the survey that I would like to echo is that it would be helpful to know the religious affiliation of the survey participants for a number of reasons.

    However, I would like to point out that since only 2-3 percent of the readers are UCG members, then, statistically speaking, it should be that at most 300 of those who actually opened the e-mail would be members, and therefore at the very least half of the 600 were probably nonmembers. (Though keep in mind that the percentage of church members who opened it verses nonmembers who opened it may vary slightly, but even still I cannot imagine that it would be THAT heavily biased.)

    Thanks for all the info, and please keep it coming!

    Comment by Steven Britt | June 7, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the comments, Steven. Another way to reach the same conclusion that UCG members are a definite minority of the respondents is to look at the length of time they have have been subscribers.

      Totaling up those who have subscribed for less than 1 year (24%), 1 to 2 years (24%) and 2 to 3 years (16%), we find that 64%, or almost two thirds, have subscribed for less than 3 years. This group would be overwhelmingly non-members and would at most have a handful of members in it. This would confirm your point.

      In the actual comments received we see a number of people stating their religious affiliation—including at least several pastors! So we’ll add a question about religious affiliation next time and see what it shows.

      Comment by Scott Ashley | June 8, 2010 | Reply


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