Audiences: ours vs. theirs 

Ranger Rich

You can't tell stupid people their stupid because their too stupid to understand.

In a moment I'll give you a few details about that sentence and whether or not a hundred English grammar teachers just blew coffee out of they're... there... thar ... the noses that belong to them.

But first, let me point out that there are 452,219 adults (too old to be children) in El Paso County. That number jumps to 452,220 if you count me, which you should not do. For example, this morning during coffee I slipped a thumbtack onto my wife's kitchen chair just as she sat down. I won't get into any detail about what happened next, but I will say it involved a long-handled broom, a lot of pain and my wife shouting, "Look, funny boy is a witch!"

Anyway, we're talking local demographics. Simple things like population. Income levels. Reading habits. Why smart people with money read the Independent. Why people who think the Magna Carta is a fancy name for the big shopping carts at Sam's Club are more likely to read the Gazette.

We will also touch briefly on why, if Indy readers are so smart, I get e-mails from readers containing actual phrases like the first one in this column. And this one, from the same loyal Indy reader: "How's that bear bite you in the ass u dumbass liberal!"

But back to the unbiased El Paso County media survey and audit, completed earlier this year by International Demographics, Inc.

For example, there are 168,586 people between the ages of 18-49 who live in a household that earns more than $50,000 annually. Of that group, 32 percent read the Indy regularly while just 22 percent read the "Front/news" section of the daily Gazette. In the younger 18-34 high-income group, 22,982 read the Indy while just 8,260 read the "news" section of the daily.

Those findings caused Gazette publisher du jour Steve Pope to put on a festive hat, call the staff together and tell them things never looked better and this could be the best financial year in the history of the paper. Then he cried and fired another dozen of them.

The survey did show that in the 65-74 group, only 4,824 read the Indy while 17,698 read the "news" section of the Gazette. Among retired folks, 34,722 read the "news" section of the Gazette while just 13,309 read the Indy.

This is great news for the daily. On the downside, it indicates Gazette circulation could nosedive if its readers sleep with a window open and get a chill. (Coming this Sunday inside each copy of the Gazette: a mustard pack to draw out the congestion, a poster of President Eisenhower, a rubber hot-water bottle to cure "the aches" and a "Where the Hell Are My Glasses?" bumper sticker.)

Another interesting finding: Among frequent wine drinkers, 22,533 read the Indy while 18,311 read the "news" section of the daily. Although the Gazette number jumps to 250,000 if you include Night Train, Thunderbird, Wild Irish Rose, Boone's Farm and Buckfast Tonic Wine.

(Statistical footnote: Of that particular group of Gazette readers contacted, 74.8 percent admitted to throwing up while crawling to answer the phone.)

The Indy also has a much higher following among people who frequent bars and nightclubs — with 48 percent of them saying they had "some trouble" finding a downtown parking space last weekend, while 14 percent said there "sure seemed to be a lot of cops" and 51 percent saying they were stabbed "more than once" as the merriment spilled onto the streets after last call.

OK, I made up those three categories. But I am not making up the angry e-mails I get, including the one with the actual "their too stupid" and "How's that bear bite you in the ass" lines above.

That lovely note came from reader "yankeeSamurai" in response to a column comparing anti-tax advocate Doug Bruce to a smelly bear. (I got an even angrier letter, demanding an apology, from the bear's lawyer.)

"I may be a conservative," the e-mail went on, "but your going to wake up every morning a Dumbass fool imbecile liberal for the rest of your life!"

To which I would say: And youv got Sarah Palin, two! Ewe lukky bastard!


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