About every four years since the 1980s, Commonweal has conducted a reader survey, and each one has provided a fascinating snapshot of who’s reading the magazine at a given time. Our most recent survey, conducted last fall, proved no different. It consisted of thirty questions spread over eight pages. (Readers could also fill out the survey online.) One of the principal reasons periodicals conduct surveys is to provide advertisers with accurate data about potential customers. For the editors, the chief benefit is learning a lot of detailed information about our loyal readership. And we mean loyal. Pop quiz: How long have most Commonweal readers been subscribers?
A. Two to three years?
B. Four to six?
C. Seven to ten?
D. Eleven to fifteen?
Amazingly, the answer is E. About half our subscribers have been receiving Commonweal for more than fifteen years (nearly 80 percent for more than seven). That’s what you call a long-term relationship (considering the median duration of marriages in the United States is 7.2 years, we think we’re doing OK). Regardless of whether you are a longtime subscriber or a new acquaintance, if you’ve ever found yourself furtively wanting to know...