Well, we tried it, and we didn't like it. Back in mid-'85 when we redesigned the inside of the magazine, we decided to drop our Editors' Notes department as such and append any missives to our readers to Editorials. But it just hasn't felt right. No longer a department, notes from the editor about the magazine itself and the editors and whatnot have been neglected in the last-minute rush to put together each issue.
So we've decided to resurrect the department and have it lead off each issue—hence the heading, Up Front. We'll try to keep you posted on interesting behind-the-scenes info—how we decided to cover a certain issue, for example, or difficulties encountered along the way; achievements recognized by our media colleagues; puzzling or amusing things that come across our desks as editors.
Let us know what you think of it—and of other features in the magazine. We like to hear from you readers out there, even if we're too busy to take phone calls. (Please, no chats! Drop us a line; that, we can pay attention to as our schedule allows.)
And speaking of hearing from you readers: As some of you know, we from time to time conduct a survey of a random sample of REASON subscribers. All magazines do it, partly to assemble up-to-date information about readers for potential advertisers. And of course, editors being what they are, we always throw in some questions about how you like features of the magazine and so on, so that we can have some idea how we're doing with the product we labor over.
Counting subscribers, you're some 30,000 strong. On average, you share your issue with 1.6 other people. Then there are 2,000 or so newsstand buyers each month now. So, we figure REASON gets into about 80,000 pairs of hands each month, leaving libraries, doctors offices, and so on out of the picture.
Judging by the survey respondents, over half of you (55 percent) fall into the 25-to-44 age group. Almost all of you—or at least those who grab the REASON survey out of the mail and fill it out—are male (89 percent). Three-quarters of you have an undergraduate degree or more. Nearly two-thirds, and about 40 percent of spouses, have professional/managerial jobs. And here's an interesting number: a full 33 percent of you own your own company, either as sole owner or partner. Entrepreneurs, anyone?
You and your spouses are well represented in the fields of engineering, health services, data processing, teaching, manufacturing, and sales. Over half of you use a computer at work. Your average household income is $52,000. More than half of you own your own home, invest in stocks and money market funds, or have IRAs. Another interesting bit of data: 40 percent own gold or silver. Do we know something the Fed doesn't?
Asked to check the category that best describes one's political/social views, 62 percent went for that growing category the pollsters are even noticing: libertarian. Another 23 percent are more comfortable with the "conservative" description, and the rest of you are "liberal," "moderate," or "other."
Looking for a little more information, we listed several issues and asked for a position. Here's how it came out:
This probably won't surprise a lot of you, given that you read a magazine of ideas like REASON, but you tend to be quite involved in the world around you—much more involved than the average American. As you can see from the following, you're leaders in your communities:
In addition, it seems that REASON readers contribute to a charity at the rate of 81 percent and to an environmental group at 15 percent. And 30 percent do volunteer work. So much for the "hardhearted or heartless" rumors about individualists.
In large numbers (75 percent or more), you like to read Trends (apparently REASON's most popular feature, "often read" by 80 percent, "never read" by 0 percent); Brickbats; Editorials; and investigative and cover stories. Still-popular ("often read" by 50 to 74 percent) are our one-page columns, public-policy articles and think pieces, Life & Liberty essays, and letters to the editor.
That leaves book reviews (it sounds like a school assignment, doesn't it?—that's why we've changed the department name to The Book Case), which 41 percent "often read" and 51 percent "sometimes read." That's still not bad; after all, not everyone needs to like everything in every issue of a multifaceted magazine. Besides, we bet readers like the section more now that it's laid out more appealingly. Say it's so!
But never let it be said that we're not Up Front about who our readers are.