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Proof you read more than the obits

Sunday, January 25, 2015

“I only read you for the obituaries.”

A wide-eyed journalism grad is not yet broken in to our industry till they hear that line.

Often it is said in a derisive tone — someone mad at the newspaper for some reason.

It’s such a worn line, newbies usually hear it in their first week. And they can bank on hearing it once a month for as long as they are in the career.

I have fun with it when I hear it. First, I thank them for reading the newspaper — especially for the few people who hint at embarrassment over reading obits first or only. No worries, mate.

I have more fun with the angry people. They emphasize nearly every syllable of the sentence — 12 syllables by my count.

The angriest folks tend to find a 13th or 14th. I think they hope to make me cry.

I share with them that obituaries indeed are the most read part of the newspaper. If I get them off “Mr. Angry” and sense an emerging smile, I ask them if they saw themselves in the obits today and wish them the best to stay off there for a long time to come.

The obituaries are, in fact, our No. 2 favorite content item based on a survey we just completed.

Thank you to the readers who took part. It gave us a great snapshot of what parts of The Vindy you read, how and where you read us, and a bunch of other cool things.

Obituary readership was second to general local news reading, which is not surprising. Following those two was sports news.

Weather was fourth in line, which kind of surprised me. The content is great and thorough, no doubt. It’s professionally provided by the same experts who fill your TV screens.

Why did I expect less? There’s an app for that!

I just figured the real-time desire of “I want to know the next hour” of things like today’s snowstorm, or if I can play golf, etc. drove more people to immediate weather reads such as an app. Thus, I expected weather to be down the list a bit. I’m glad it’s so high.

After weather, our next most read area is something we’re proud of: Valley Food.

That’s a feature that’s really taken off for us. That page blends a showcase of Valley restaurants and favorite haunts, along with traditional recipe offerings. Those recipes we feature come from a book by Bobbi Emmett Allen, who allows the proceeds from the book to support Lanterman’s Mill. She reports that after The Vindy started featuring the recipes in November, her book sold out.

“The power of the press!!!! I am in awe of what you have done since this started,” she wrote.

On the earlier mention of apps, nurturing The Vindy’s digital footprint is just as important to us as our newspaper work.

Our survey demonstrated this importance, showing that 69 percent of the community gets to once a week, and 50 percent get to the site once per day. No other local media site was close to that measure.

Who loyal Vindyists are is unique to see.

The average household income of a Vindy reader is $67,000, with 80 percent of them owning their own home, and a third of the folks describing themselves as currently working in professional and managerial jobs.

That stat makes the next stat a tad surprising:

Coupon usage among them totals 91 percent of the folks, with 33 percent saying they use coupons all the time.

The data rolls on in lots of various directions, and we’ll share it with you in other ways and employ it as we try to redefine our role in this new media era.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at He blogs, too, on Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.