The skinny on you, our readers

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Last week’s column explored the News-Herald’s growing readership, fueled by an important decision two years ago to distribute the newspaper free to anyone who wants to read it.

It raises a valid question: If we’re giving it away, how do we know the number of people reading it?

Twice a year, we commission reputable research firms to survey Suffolk residents and ask a simple question: Do you regularly read the Suffolk News-Herald? If the answer is no, the conversation terminates. If the answer is yes, the surveyors ask a few more questions to learn more about you, our readers.


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The good news is that 51 percent of Suffolk adults regularly read the print edition of our newspaper. That’s an audience unmatched by any other print, broadcast or online medium.

The surprising news is who comprises the 51 percent.

A common misconception about free distribution is that readership growth results from more price-sensitive consumers (read: poor people) getting the newspaper. Here’s the reality, according to the Circulation Verification Council: Just 4 percent of regular Suffolk News-Herald readers have a household income below $25,000, compared with 19 percent of adults citywide who live in households with incomes below that threshold.

Twenty-nine percent of our readers have household incomes between $25,000 and $50,000. Twenty-two percent have incomes between $50,000 and $75,000. Twenty-one percent earn between $75,000 and $100,000, compared to 16 percent of households citywide that have income in that bracket. Sixteen percent earn between $100,000 and $150,000. Eight percent of our readers earn more than $150,000 annually.

Some other interesting statistics about you, our loyal readers:

  • Fifty-five percent of you are women. That’s a good thing, as we see it, because women tend to make the purchasing decisions that are important to our advertisers.
  • A third of you graduated from college, compared to 22 percent of Suffolk residents citywide who have college degrees. Thirty percent of you graduated from high school but did not attend college.
  • Sixty-nine percent of you are between the ages of 25 and 54, debunking the myth that only senior citizens read newspapers. In fact, only 1 percent of our readers are older than 75. Two percent are between 21 and 24; 21 percent are between 25 and 34; 23 percent are between 35 and 44; 25 percent are between 45 and 54; 18 percent are between 55 and 64; and 10 percent are between 65 and 74.
  • Perhaps most important, 78 percent of you say you “frequently purchase products or services from ads seen in the Suffolk News-Herald.”

That’s what makes us such an effective partner for Suffolk businesses — and pays our bills so that we can keep providing free news and information for the citizens of Suffolk.

Steve Stewart is publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is