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Results of our 2008 Reader Survey

 We really appreciate your responses to our reader survey a couple of weeks ago and wanted you (collectively) to know what you (individually) thought.

Nearly 950 readers completed the survey, 585 of whom clicked on the link in one of our e-mails and 361 of whom clicked from the posting on the Web site. 

Two words of caution: While the numbers, because they are so large, are probably fairly representative of our current readership (even though the survey sample was NOT scientific), they may not be representative of our potential readership. 

Also, we are reporting the e-mail and Web respondents separately because while we had more respondents from the e-mail link (presumably because of the ease of response), traffic figures indicate that we actually have more readers who find us on the Web.

Highlights from the survey:

·      The highest number of respondents (35% from e-mail, 41% from the Web) look at our content daily; only 7% of Web respondents look more often. Fully 58% of e-mail respondents and 73% of Web respondents look at our stuff at least three times per week.

·      Readers look at all of our principal types of content: 73% of Web respondents and 79% of e-mail respondents read our longer features and investigations; 65% of Web respondents and 57% of e-mail respondents check out the "Today’s reporting" posts; 56% of Web respondents and 60% of e-mail respondents review the "Breaking on the Web" links. 

·      Story length is generally considered "just right" (by 85% of Web respondents and 86% of e-mail respondents); 13% of Web respondents and 9% of e-mail respondents think it’s too short, just 2% of Web respondents and 5% of e-mail respondents too long. 

·      Readers are also generally happy with how often we post; 80% of both Web respondents and e-mail respondents call it "just right", while 16% of Web respondents and 13% of e-mail respondents would like to see more frequent posting and only 4% of Web respondents and 7% of e-mail respondents would like fewer posts.

·      Questions have been raised about whether we’d have a political slant literally from the day we announced ProPublica. We’re pleased to report that 59% of Web respondents and 46% of e-mail respondents  consider ProPublica "non-ideological," while 22% of Web respondents and 29% of e-mail respondents call us "moderate" and 19% of Web respondents and 25% of e-mail respondents "liberal".  (Very few think we’re "conservative".)   

·      Our readers consider themselves largely "liberal" (55% of Web respondents and 56% of e-mail respondents), with fewer identifying themselves as "moderate" (26% of Web respondents and 24% of e-mail respondents), "non-ideological" (14% of both Web respondents and e-mail respondents) or "conservative" (5% of Web respondents and 6% of e-mail respondents). For purposes of comparison, the presidential election exit polls found voters self-identified as follows: 44% moderate, 34% conservative, 22% liberal.

Further demographic facts about our readers:

·      Most are men (69% of Web respondents and 61% of e-mail respondents). The median age is roughly 55; 29% of Web respondents and 30% of e-mail respondents are under age 44, while 22% of Web respondents and 23% of e-mail respondents are over age 65. 

·      Quite a few are journalists (9% of Web respondents and 18% of e-mail respondents), and even more are students or retired or otherwise not working (33% of Web respondents and 28% of e-mail respondents). 

·       Their primary source of national news is the Web (61% of Web respondents and 54% of e-mail respondents), with print newspapers a distant second (18% of Web respondents and 25% of e-mail respondents). 

On our open-ended questions, readers suggested that ProPublica should do more to make people aware of our existence and do more international work.

When asked what they would change, "nothing" was the most common response, with "too soon to tell" (and variants of that) third. Second was Web site design and layout (46 respondents, or about 4%). On what readers like most, common responses were "investigations" (11%), "depth", "independence", "fills gap" and "non-profit."

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