Date of Award

Summer 1991

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Thorn, William

Second Advisor

Murphy, Sharon

Third Advisor

Baxter, William

Abstract

A survey of readers and non-readers of inSpirit, magazine for women of the Covenant Church, used the uses and gratifications approach to test theologian Martin Marty's view that the disparity between readers' expectations and the limits of performance of the Protestant press has failed readers (Marty 1963). A literature review of assessments of reader and nonreader characteristics and behaviors provided the foundation for the survey. The survey sought the causes of low readership that led to the magazine's financial instability. The larger objective of the project was to examine how readers used the magazine and to explore strategies for making it useful to non-readers. The survey focused on three groups of needs as suggested by uses and gratifications literature: spiritual, informational and social integrative. It also sought to assess reading behavior patterns and establish key demographic variables. Survey questionnaires were sent to about 1,000 women, both subscribers and non-subscribers, in the Central Conference of The Evangelical Covenant Church, with which Covenant Women is affiliated. Questionnaire data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSSx). Pearson Correlations and T-Tests were especially useful in establishing relationships among variables. The results of the study establish that readers are most likely to use inSpirit to meet specific needs of personal identity and anticipated communication, that older readers are more likely to use inSpirit to meet more needs than younger readers, that local Covenant Women meetings are the primary source of information about the organization of Covenant Women for readers and that non-readers rely most heavily on the Sunday worship bulletin for information about the organization. The results of this research offer a sufficient theoretical foundation to recommend options for changes in focus, content and editorial management to the publisher, the national Board of Covenant Women.

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