If you're reading this, do me a favor. Reach one of your hands over your shoulder and give yourself a nice pat on the back. You deserve it. You're a newspaper reader.
You may not realize it, but you're part of a pretty exclusive group. Newspaper readers, more and more, are becoming special people.Research done by the Deseret News and other papers show that you, if you fit the typical newspaper reader profile, are better educated than average, have a higher income than average, are more involved in community activities and politics than average - and you're more attractive to advertisers than average.
So you deserve the pat on the back. You really want to be informed. Not so many people do these days. Give yourself another pat.
While we feel good about reaching people like you, it poses a bit of a dilemma for us. If we're reaching mostly the upper class, we'll stop being a "mass" medium. That's not just a problem in Salt Lake City. It's a concern all across the newspaper industry. It's nice to be widely read by the "upper crust" of society - the movers and shakers and opinion leaders.
But we'd like to be read by the masses, too. Winning back some of those readers would be a very difficult task. Reading and staying informed is simply not a high priority for many folks.
And sometimes our coverage doesn't help. We cover the symphony and ballet in great depth. But we don't do much with professional wrestling and "Stomper" truck rallies. We send some pretty obvious messages about who we're trying to reach.
That doesn't mean we ought to reduce our coverage to the lowest common denominator. But we must better educate people about the great value of a newspaper: You can save lotsa money, be entertained, stay informed and generally cope better with life.
I'll try to do some of that educating in this column.
- Bill who? True story: Political Editor Bob Bernick, who has been working with JoAnn Jacobsen-Wells on the big fusion story, was sitting at his desk Tuesday afternoon when he answered the phone and a voice said, "Hi, this is Bill Bradley and I wanted to find out about this fusion thing." The voice sounded kind of chummy.
Bernick said he didn't know any Bill Bradley. Bradley responded that yes, he did too, that he had met him on a previous trip to Salt Lake City. Turns out that Bill Bradley was the Bill Bradley - U.S. senator, former pro-basketball great and future Democratic presidential candidate. Bill knew Bob, but Bob didn't know Bill. But Bob won't forget Bill soon.