Readers of the Anglican Journal in British Columbia – a group that includes readers of TOPIC – are considerably older that the general Canadian public, better educated, and generally better off. But they very well may have arthritis! Those are some of the findings of a readership survey undertaken by the national Anglican newspaper this year, which was supported in part by a contribution from the diocese.
Nearly every Anglican household in BC receives a copy of the Anglican Journal along with their diocesan newspaper as part of being a member of the Anglican Church of Canada. So the “average reader” should be somewhat similar to the “average Anglican.”However, the two groups are not identical. Since the survey was by mail, and older people are more likely to have the time to fill out the questionnaire and return it, it’s probable that the average Anglican is somewhat younger than the average reader.
Also, another caution is that while the national survey was large enough for one to be fairly confident about the national results, only surveying 122 BC respondents means that the figures could be out by several percentage points just by chance.
How much younger are average Anglicans than average Anglican Journal readers? We don’t know - but a glance at the congregation in many (not all!) of our parishes would suggest it’s not by that much.
About 5,000 questionnaires were sent out to a random selection of readers. A total of 1084 readers of the Anglican Journal responded. Some 64 were incomplete or otherwise unsuitable for coding, leaving a very high 21% response rate for a mail-in survey.
Of those responding, a total of 122 respondents were from British Columbia and Yukon. There was no breakdown by diocese. Most likely the majority of BC respondents were from the Diocese of New Westminster, but we have no figures – the BC figures also include readers in the Dioceses of BC, Kootenay, and probably a handful from Caledonia, Central Interior, and Yukon (one).
In British Columbia, the median age was over 76 years. There are very few younger readers. (Nationally, the survey found that 69% of Anglican Journal readers are 65 or older and 41% are 76 or older.)Most of the BC respondents are retired (72%) and most are women (69%). Some 29% were widowed, and one-third (41 of 122) live alone.
In BC, some 42% have a university education. Despite all the retirees in the group, only 46% had less than $50,000 annual household income.
The survey was undertaken in part so that the Anglican Journal could use the findings to approach potential advertisers, so some rather personal questions were asked. The survey found that nearly half of those responding are bothered by arthritis, about 2 in 5 have high blood pressure, and nearly 2 in 5 report hearing loss.
Three-quarters of those surveyed said they read the Anglican newspapers immediately. None in BC said they discarded the paper or dumped it into recycling right away, treating it as junk mail (10 in the total Canadian survey however did).
On a scale of 1 to 10, the BC respondents rated their own diocesan paper most highly (averaging 7.48), followed closely by people who read Atlantic diocesan newspapers (7.47). The national Anglican Journal was rated nearly as highly (7.41).
In BC, 35% agreed that their local diocesan paper is a “must read.” The Canadian average for diocesan papers was 28%.
Interest in the Internet is growing – but at the moment over seven times as many Anglicans in this part of the country get church news from the paper, not on the web, the survey found..
In BC fully two-thirds (68%) own or have access to a personal computer, and most have Internet access (63%). But it appears Anglicans use the Internet primarily for email. Only 17.4% report web/Internet surfing in their spare time.
In general, they do not visit the Anglican Journal website–no statistics were available regarding the diocesan websites. BC has the highest percentage of people who visit the national website (13.2%), but that’s still less than one in 8.
Website visiting is definitely related to age. Of those under 50, 28% have visited the website; of those 50 to 64, 13% visit; of those 65 to 75, 11% visit; of those 76 plus, only one in 20 (5%) have ever visited the website.
The Internet may be the future, but we’re not there yet!