As more publications go digital, readers strongly favor a print denominational magazine
By Jeffrey Lawrence | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — A new readership study for Presbyterians Today (PT), the official denominational magazine of the PC(USA), offers an in-depth portrait of the publication’s recipients, their needs and interests, and their connection to the church. The survey, conducted by the PC(USA)’s Research Services office, was sent to 18,043 PT readers in March, and final findings were compiled and tabulated this summer.
Among the study’s key findings:
- 84% of readers rely on PT as a top source for news from the denomination.
- 87% say that PT helps them feel more connected with the wider church.
- 67% would prefer that PT continue to produce a printed-on-paper magazine, and another 19% would be equally happy to read it in digital form. 83% said they would miss PT a lot if it were to stop publishing.
- 83% or recipients have been reading PT for at least two years. 38% have been readers for 10+ years.
PT readers tend to parallel the denomination’s demographic makeup. 88% are age 55 and up, with an average age of 67. Of these, 56% are female and 44% male. PT readers tend to have high household incomes (51% earn $50,000 to $100,000, and 30% earn over $100,000 per year). Many are retired (55%), but 44% are still working full- or part-time. Readers are also well-educated: 51% hold a master’s degree, 23% have a doctorate, and 19% have a bachelor’s degree.
The survey shows that PT readers attend church regularly and are actively and passionately involved in their church and community. 42% are PC(USA) pastors or ministers of the Word and Sacrament. 78% serve as a church officer (elder or deacon), committee chair or group leader. 98% regularly support their congregation financially. 71% express an interest in faith-based or socially-responsible investing.
PT readers have high disposable incomes, and 82% have more than $100,000 in investments. They enjoy dining out frequently and going to movies, concerts and theater. 78% travel often, and 25% spend $5,000 or more each year on cruises, group tours and other trips and vacations.
Despite high marks from readers, PT’s financial health has been in decline for several years. At least since the 1990s, revenue from subscriptions, advertising and donations has been unable to keep pace with rising printing, mailing and other production expenses. This has been a common story among church magazines in other denominations, as well. As a result, several denominations have discontinued their print magazines. Others, like PT, are changing their financial model from seeking that publications be self-supporting to helping fund a publishing ministry, which is deemed crucial to spreading the Good News, interpreting the church’s work and building up the church’s overall mission.
PT, originally founded as The Missionary, has published continuously under several titles (The Home Missionary, The Missionary Survey, Presbyterian Survey and now Presbyterians Today) since 1862. Now in its 157th year, PT is published six times a year and has a circulation of 52,000.
To make a gift to support PT’s publishing ministry, click here.
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Categories: Presbyterians Today
Tags: presbyterian survey, presbyterians today, readership study, research services, the home missionary, the missionary, the missionary survey
Tags: $100,000, 10, church, denominational, denominational magazine, digital, magazine, missionary, news, pc(usa, presbyterian, presbyterians, print, publications, publishing, publishing ministry, readers, readers tend, survey, wider church
Ministries: Presbyterians Today, Research Services