Date of Award

Fall 1993

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Thorn, William J.

Second Advisor

Gribbin, August K.

Third Advisor

Scotton, James F.

Abstract

Employing a uses and gratifications approach to mass media use, this study examined the needs of the readers of a church publication, Northwestern Lutheran. The study was undertaken to increase readership by determining the attitudes and expectations of the magazine's intended audience, the members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Four hypotheses were tested. It was hypothesized that most Northwestern Lutheran readers are over 50, female, and committed members of the church. It was further hypothesized that readers expect Northwestern Lutheran to provide guidance in matters of faith and instruction in religious issues. It was also hypothesized that regular readers will assess Northwestern Lutheran as successfully fulfilling its role of providing religious inspiration and information. Finally, it was hypothesized that readers are most likely to favor features that provide personal inspiration and guidance. To test the hypotheses, a mail survey was sent to a random sample of WELS members. The results were tabulated, using data analysis. Formats included frequency distribution, percentage distribution, and cross tabulations to allow for comparison of respondent groups. The survey confirmed that the majority of Northwestern Lutheran readers are females, over 50, and active church members. It also confirmed that readers expect Northwestern Lutheran to provide religious guidance. It also indicated a problem: a difference between the needs of lay people, for whom the magazine is intended, and the attitudes of pastors, upon whom subscriptions depend. The survey showed that lay people are more likely than pastors to say that Northwestern Lutheran successfully carries out its role of providing religious inspiration and information. Finally, it showed that lay people are more likely than pastors to prefer features that provide inspiration and guidance. The study concludes with a discussion of the survey's implications about how to increase Northwestern Lutheran readership.

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