Saturday, September 1, 2018

Letter to the Editor: "Get the Facts on Readers", Emailed to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Kip Currier, September 1, 2018

[Kip Currier: I'm copying below a Letter to the Editor--titled "Get the Facts on Readers"--that I emailed today (September 1, 2018) to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. For additional background, see this story.]

Get the Facts on Readers

Dear Editor,

The Post-Gazette is running a multi-platform ad campaign that weaponizes variations of the line “I will never go digital” to make fun of older readers, depicted as fuddy-duddy Luddites. In one particularly offensive TV spot, a digitally-savvy granddaughter openly mocks her grandmother who prefers print.

Research refutes the ageist “messages” in the P-G’s divisive marketing campaign. Many adult U.S. readers—of all ages—are hybrid readers who want the choice of information in both print and digital formats.

As evidence, take a look at some of the key findings from a Jan. 3-10, 2018 national survey of 2,002 U.S. adults, reported by the well-respected, non-partisan Pew Research Center:

Despite some growth in certain digital formats, it remains the case that relatively few Americans consume digital books (which include audiobooks and e-books) to the exclusion of print. Some 39% of Americans say they read only print books, while 29% read in these digital formats and also read print books.

And the coup de grace to the P-G’s graceless stereotyping:

Some demographic groups are more likely than others to be digital-only book readers, but in general this behavior is relatively rare across a wide range of demographics. For example, 10% of 18- to 29-year-olds only read books in digital formats, compared with 5% of those ages 50-64 and 4% of those 65 and older.

The P-G’s preening effort to digitally divide users borders on farce, given that P-G writers and staff repeatedly concede the deplorable state of the newspaper’s digital search and archival features.

The P-G’s tagline is “One of America’s Great Newspapers”. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, that tagline is not supported by facts. So, here’s a “message” for P-G ownership:

Hire some of the Pittsburgh region’s highly educated information professionals to help the P-G become a bona fide leader in print and digital content, search, and delivery. Give the Pittsburgh region a truly great newspaper that inclusively serves and respects all of its readers and residents.

James “Kip” Currier 
Mt. Lebanon

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