PICTURE Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, filled to its 100,000-plus capacity, with the state rival Wolverine and Spartan football teams going at it - and the program every fan holds is The Christian Science Monitor: This gives an idea of the Monitor's collective circulation.
Consider who those readers are: More than four-fifths are college-educated. (Many of those who are not may think of themselves as getting their college education in our pages.) They are from all 50 states and from nearly 150 foreign countries. They are extraordinarily active in civic affairs. They are diplomats, businesswomen, librarians, teachers. Multiplied by three or four - the pass-along readership of the paper - their numbers are even greater. Consider too that our "stadium" is filled 250 days a ye ar: If the Monitor were a rock group, performing every weeknight of the year to full houses in the nation's biggest stadium, it would be considered an enormous success.
Monitor readers are readers.
The typical reader is very satisfied with the paper and spends a lot of time with it, according to the results of a recent survey. The survey, taken by the Beta Research Corporation, polled 1,000 Monitor subscribers, chosen at random, from the continental United States. Each was sent a questionnaire; 636 were returned, a healthy response for this type of poll.
The poll found that 72 percent of those responding have subscribed for six years or more, while 29 percent have subscribed to the paper for five years or less. Asked which media gave them the most useful information and news they ranked national newspapers (such as the Monitor) far above electronic media and magazines.
Those polled gave the Monitor high marks for helping them to be informed citizens, keeping them abreast of events, and providing them useful information. Asked if they felt the Monitor is "on top of the news," 89 percent checked "very much," while 11 percent checked "somewhat."
Very high percentages of readers said the Monitor was "well-written" (92 percent), "easy to read" (86 percent), "balanced and fair" (80 percent). What would they like to see more of in the paper? More US news, science and technology, and education were the top choices.
Asked whether they thought the Monitor was better than, the same as, or not as good as other news and information publications, 93 percent said the Monitor was better because it "publishes without sensationalism"; 81 percent said it was better as "an unbiased source of news"; 81 percent said it was better at giving "a comprehensive overview" of events; and 80 percent said it was better at appealing "to my interest in the betterment of human conditions."
The Monitor was overwhelmingly judged to be balanced on the political spectrum: 77 percent called it politically balanced, while 11 percent thought it was liberal and another 11 percent said it was conservative.
How are we doing? Thirty-six percent said it had gotten better in the past year, 57 percent thought it had stayed the same, and 7 percent thought it had declined. In all, 94 percent said they would renew their subscription.
The poll found that the average reader surveyed spends 56 minutes looking at or reading an issue of the Monitor. Favorite sections: US affairs and foreign affairs virtually tied at 80 percent; the economy, editorial cartoon, editorials, education, news currents, and environment sections scored in the 60-percent range.
When not reading the Monitor, they mentioned reading books for pleasure (83 percent), listening to music (81 percent), attending live theater/concert/ opera/ballet performances (66 percent), and entertaining guests at home (65 percent) as pastime activities.
The survey included individual households; university and institutional addresses were excluded. (Over the course of a year, some 28,000 college students take the newspaper for at least a semester.) Almost half the respondents were Christian Scientists. Other research, however, shows that more than two-thirds of Monitor subscribers are not Christian Science church members.