Selling print short: the need to re-assess reading and readership

“Do we need a new definition of what we mean by readership?â€? First, the question rather implies that we have an agreed old one – and we don’t. Whilst we do not have to consult a dictionary to concur on what we are talking about when discussing readership, in practice we go about measuring the supposed same phenomena differently. And in measuring differently we effectively change, or create, a variety of detailed meanings of readership. For the way we measure readership cautions and qualifies its specific meaning. The reality is probably more complicated still for we are not interested in readership values per se but measure them only as a surrogate for gauging the advertising communication value of publications – both in respect of print titles relative to other print titles and as a collective medium against, say, television. If there was no supposed high positive correlation between readership and communication value then we wouldn’t even bother to measure the former. This, sometimes neglected, issue will be returned to later in the paper.

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