More than 100 of 489 Interim-reading household that were sent a readership survey this past summer replied, the latest step in our constant quest to improve the newspaper.

The purpose of the survey was to obtain our readers’ impressions of what this newspaper does or doesn’t do well and to solicit their ideas about the future direction of The Interim.

Although The Interim’s staff and editorial advisory and business boards are still finalizing the analysis, it is clear that the information gathered will help in formulating new plans for this newspaper. We will report what respondents want from The Interim.

Circulation manager Dan Di Rocco randomly selected subscribers from across Canada.

Based on the 104 completed surveys returned to us, we found that 79 per cent of respondents identified themselves as Roman Catholic, seven percent Protestant, with others identifying themselves more specifically as Evangelical (five per cent), Pentecostal (four percent), Reformed (three per cent), Anglican (one percent), no religious affiliation (one per cent). Di Rocco stresses that these numbers represent only survey respondents, not necessarily the 30,000-plus readers of The Interim.

A majority of respondents were from urban areas, with 56 percent living in large cities and another 23 per cent in small towns. The balance (21 percent) came from rural or farm communities.

There is an even split between male and female, thus illustrating that life and family issues are not gender issues.

Other findings include: the majority of readers have a college or university education (58 per cent); most households had one or two persons (70 percent), 15 per cent have three to four persons and another 15 per cent have five or more persons; six of every 10 readers are retired, while 14 per cent are professionals, 14 per cent classified as homemakers, four per cent are in skilled trades and one per cent are students.

Our readers tend to hang on to the paper for at least a month and 15 per cent of them report circulating it to others (libraries, hospitals, offices, and family members).

Most readers rely on a combination of newspapers and television or newspapers and radio as their main or preferred news source. Fewer than eight per cent of respondents cited the Internet as their main news source.

Di Rocco said, “The survey confirms that our readers tend to be a more mature segment of the general population. The paper enjoys widespread support among a stable, experienced, and wiser element of society.” But he added that, “It is of concern if the readership fails to include younger citizens, to convince them of the justice of the pro-life cause and to encourage them to learn more about it. There is a demographic challenge to reach young parents and young adults.”

In fact, we have begun to respond to this need. In September, The Interim launched a program to market the paper to schools by producing a special education supplement composed of curriculum material, questions, background information and suggested further reading.

Di Rocco suggested another way to bring The Interim to the attention of younger readers: subscribers could pass the newspaper on to their children and grandchildren – or better yet, purchase them a gift subscription. “It could ignite some interesting inter-generational dialogue on life issues.”