Throughout the month of March, PGN conducted a readership survey in the interest of allowing the paper to meet the needs of its diverse readership.
The survey ran for one month in print and was also posted online, generating participation from 298 readers, (201 online and 97 in print).
PGN also conducted a content analysis of a quarter of the issues published in 2008 and 2009 to analyze the type of news coverage PGN actually provides.
According to the survey, the majority of PGN’s readers live in Philadelphia — about 58.2 percent — with 20.5 percent from the suburbs, 10.8 percent from New Jersey, 1 percent from Delaware and 9.4 percent from other locations, including Washington, D.C. Most survey respondents were longterm readers, with 23 percent saying that they have been reading PGN for more than 20 years, and just about 9 percent reporting that they started reading in the past year. About 49 percent of readers read the print version of PGN, 19 percent read it online and about 33 percent said they read both.
The survey respondents were predominantly male — 76.8 percent — while 17.8 percent were female, 3 percent transgender and 2.3 percent reported another gender identity, such as intersex. For the content analysis, the majority of the stories — about 40 percent — were relevant to people of all gender identities. For stories that focused on one specific identity, however, about 51 percent applied to males, 21 percent to females, 18 percent to both males and females and 10 percent to transgender individuals.
About 68.6 percent of participants were gay, while 11.1 percent identified as lesbian, 6.4 percent as bisexual, 5.7 percent identified as queer and an additional 8.1 percent responded as another orientation, such as heterosexual or questioning. For stories that had a relevance to just one orientation, 68.7 percent centered on gay individuals, 26.9 percent on lesbians and 4.4 percent on both gays and lesbians. No stories surveyed focused on bisexual people.
The majority of the survey respondents were Caucasian — 75.7 percent — with 12.2 percent reporting as African American, 5.1 percent as Latino/a, 1 percent as Asian and 6.1 percent as another race, such as mixed races. In race-specific stories, 69.1 percent focused on Caucasians, 24.2 percent on African Americans and 6.6 percent on Latino/a people, with no stories on Asian individuals. There was a segment of stories that centered on another race, but the vast majority of those were included in PGN’s International News section.
The majority of the survey respondents were 35 or older, with about 32.7 percent between 35-49 and 29 percent between 50-65. Those between 26-34 comprised 16.2 percent of the respondents, and those between 18-25 made up 15.8 percent, with those who were 66-80 comprising 5.7 percent and individuals over 80 encompassing just .7 percent. Most of the stories in the analysis applied to all adults over the age of 18, but about 39.8 percent of age-specific stories focused on those between 41-62, with 26.5 percent about those 25-40, 11.6 percent about young adults, 10.5 percent about college-aged individuals, 7.7 percent about those 63 and over and 3.9 percent about children.
The survey also looked at satisfaction levels among different demographics to evaluate how PGN is perceived by different facets of the LGBT community.
The majority — 49.4 percent — said they strongly agreed with the frequency of the coverage of their sexual orientation, and between 35-40 percent of readers said they agreed with the coverage of their gender identity, race and age. Likewise, between 35-40 percent of readers agreed with the accuracy of the coverage of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race and age. About 45 percent of respondents said they agreed that PGN provides fair and balanced news coverage of the diverse Philadelphia-area LGBT community.
However, the satisfaction levels diverged for particular demographic communities. For instance, about 60 percent of African-American readers said they were neutral, disagreed or strongly disagreed with both the frequency and accuracy of the coverage of their race, while about 75 percent of white readers either agreed or strongly agreed with the frequency and accuracy of coverage of their racial community.
There were also differences among age groups. More than 60 percent of those over 50 responded neutral or lower in terms of their approval of PGN’s frequency and accuracy of coverage of their age group, while about 55 percent of those under 50 either agreed or strongly agreed with their representation in the paper.
In addition to examining the demographics and satisfaction levels of the readers, the survey also looked at the news issues important to readers, compared to actual news coverage.
Of the 12 news issues posed to survey respondents, the readers ranked the top-five most important as employment discrimination, hate crimes, HIV/AIDS issues, relationship recognition and aging/elderly issues, respectively. PGN’s most frequently covered news stories were hate crimes, same-sex marriage, employment discrimination, HIV/AIDS issues and youth issues.
The least important issues to readers were same-sex marriage, adoption rights and immigration discrimination, respectively, and the three most infrequently covered stories were immigration discrimination, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and aging/elderly issues. n