Columnists > From the Publisher

Know thyself

You might enjoy looking in WORLD's family mirror

Issue: "Justice to the Chief," Jan. 23, 1999

Who reads WORLD magazine? Besides you, I mean? Magazine publishers are encouraged to know their readers and subscribers. Totally pragmatic publishers want to get to know their readers and subscribers so that they can adjust the message of their publications to fit the audience-or, more crassly, so they can give them whatever message they want. More principled publishers (the category to which I, of course, belong) hold firm to their message and content, but still want to know more about their readers so they can express the message and content in a language that communicates. But I've discovered that readers themselves-people like you-like to know who else reads WORLD. You enjoy viewing yourself against a profile of all the other 103,468 people who got the magazine last week. So here are a few details we've assembled about you over the last few months. The average WORLD reader is 49 years old; 59 percent are between the ages of 35 and 54. Fifty-seven percent of our readers are male; 43 percent are female. You are scattered across the United States in a manner very proportionate to the overall U.S. population. Our biggest concentrations of subscribers are in California (8.96 percent); Texas (6.55 percent); Pennsylvania (5.62 percent); Florida (4.55 percent); Michigan (4.43 percent); Ohio (4.17 percent); and Washington (4.01 percent). One and a quarter percent-about 1,250 subscribers-have Canadian and foreign addresses. WORLD is embarrassingly WASPish, with 95 percent of all readers identifying themselves as Caucasian and just 1.5 percent as Afro-American. But the 5 percent minority component (which also includes even smaller numbers of Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, and "other") is almost twice what it was three years ago. Eighty-eight percent of WORLD readers are married. An astonishingly small 3 percent report that they are divorced and 2 percent say they are widowed. Median household income for WORLD readers is about $55,000. But 30 percent say household income exceeds $75,000. Just over half our readers have children in their homes. The average number of children struck me as small-just 1.4-especially when we learned that of those WORLD-subscribing families with children, 45 percent homeschool at least one child. The other children seem to be evenly divided between public schools and private schools. WORLD's readers are well educated. A huge 74 percent hold college or graduate degrees. Only 9 percent of you ended your formal education with high school. We estimate about 3,000 subscribers are presently undergraduate students in Christian colleges and universities, about 2,000 in public institutions, and about 2,000 more are theological seminary students. Just over half of you report that you work in "management" positions, and 28 percent are self-employed. About 15 percent of you report "religious occupations" like pastoring a church, teaching in a Christian school, or serving as a missionary. You're almost certain to show up at church next Sunday! Almost 98 percent of you attend "usually every week." But shame on more than 1,000 of you who say you attend less than 10 times a year. More than a fifth of you (22 percent) call yourselves Baptist; about half of those are Southern Baptist. Seventeen percent are Presbyterian or Reformed; 12 percent are members of the Presbyterian Church in America. Eleven percent call themselves pentecostal or charismatic. Independency is claimed by 22 percent. Eighty-eight percent of you say you spend at least 30 minutes with each issue, but not more than two hours. Five percent spend less than 30 minutes; 7 percent spend more than two hours. Almost a third of you pass along your copy to someone else, leading us to conclude that on average, three people read some part of each copy of WORLD. A gratifying 95 percent of you rank WORLD as one of your top three magazines, and 38 percent call it the best magazine they read. Of 26 individuals and organizations, you think most highly of James Dobson, crisis pregnancy centers, and Charles Colson. You think least well of the "religious left," the National Organization for Women, and President Bill Clinton. In the middle were the "religious right," Rush Limbaugh, and Operation Rescue. Of 25 topics, you said you are most interested in abortion, education, and Supreme Court decisions. You are least interested in recreation, feminism, and sports. In the middle are health and medicine, military and defense, and business and economics. Eighty-three percent of all WORLD readers use a computer, and 62 percent use the Internet. Twenty-eight percent have purchased something over the Internet, and 7 percent have visited WORLD's Web site (

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Joel Belz
Joel Belz

Joel, WORLD's founder, writes a regular column for the magazine and contributes commentaries for The World and Everything in It. He is also the author of Consider These Things.


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