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Readers give “Swiss Review” good marks – and have a clear idea of what they want

04.02.2021 – Marc Lettau

A very large proportion of “Swiss Review” readers rate our magazine as “good” or even “very good”. Many of them also have clear ideas as to how we could improve the publication. These are the results of our reader survey.

How would readers describe “Swiss Review”? We are a trustworthy, informative magazine that provides unbiased reporting on relevant issues in a clear and comprehensible manner. This is the overriding consensus among those who took part in our reader survey in summer 2020. The Research Center for the Public Sphere and Society (FÖG) – the University of Zurich’s independent body specialised in media research – conducted the survey. According to social scientist and survey coordinator Jörg Schneider, one specific quality stands out in the results: “A very high percentage of readers think that ‘Swiss Review’ is a trustworthy publication”.

The verdict from our highly diverse, multilingual, worldwide readership was positive overall, with 42 per cent giving the magazine top marks (“very good”) and 38 per cent scoring us as “good”. A further 17 per cent are more or less satisfied, while under 3 per cent marked us as poor or very poor.

But this is just a rough snapshot. Marks varied – albeit marginally for the most part – depending on gender, age, and country of domicile. For example, the under-25s and the over-65s share a slightly more positive view of our magazine compared to age groups in between. And we consistently received slightly better marks from women than from men. Geographical distance also played a role, with people living in places like South America or Australia more inclined than EU expatriates – our main readership community – to score us higher.

According to our readers, “Swiss Review” also has weaknesses. Around 10 per cent believe that its visual appearance can be improved. This opinion came more from online readers than from readers of the print edition. “Swiss Review” is politically biased, according to 12 per cent of readers, half of whom accuse us of being too government-friendly and too afraid to speak our mind. The other half accuse us of exactly the opposite, saying that we are too critical of Switzerland, and that our position verges on “socialist”. According to Schneider, this relatively small contingent – and the views they express – confirm, if anything, that our magazine has, in his words, a “good command of controversial political issues”.

Wish list

Readers used the survey to tell us how they thought we could improve the magazine. People want to see more articles on nature and the environment – a theme that featured at the top of most readers’ wish lists. This call was loudest among young readers as well as readers who are past retirement age, although other age groups also think that green issues should be given clear priority, followed by sociopolitical topics. Readers would like to see even more report-style pieces, while “useful information” also features prominently among people’s preferences: over a third of respondents want more practical, clear advice and tips from both the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad and the federal authorities.

Differences between print and online readers

There was very little difference, if any, in scoring between those who read the printed version of “Swiss Review” and those who read online. Both groups also said very similar things about how to improve the magazine. However, one significant divergence is that a large proportion of print subscribers “consume” the magazine intensively, i.e. they read many, if not all, of the articles and often discuss the content of these articles with others in their private and professional lives. Online readers consume much less intensively, both reading less and spending less time doing so.

Emotional connection

The survey results also reveal an emotional connection to the magazine, with 70 per cent of readers saying that “Swiss Review” strengthens their ties to Switzerland. “This is the most significant soft factor,” says Schneider. “Two thirds of readers also view the magazine as a sort of ‘guide’ to contemporary Switzerland.”

The only source of information for many readers

“Swiss Review” is one of many media channels. However, 44 per cent of readers say that the magazine essentially meets all their Swiss news and information needs. Some 28 per cent say that “Swiss Review” provides their only source of news and information from Switzerland. Readers who access Swiss-related news and information from sources other than “Swiss Review” make use of Swiss newspaper and magazine websites (41 per cent), read the international press (39 per cent), visit swissinfo (19 per cent) or consult Swiss government websites (11 per cent).

Our website contains a number of frequently asked questions about “Swiss Review”. For additional information, visit revue@swisscommunity.org.

The survey in figures

Some 17,000 people took part in the “Swiss Review” reader survey coordinated by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, with around 14,000 completing the questionnaire in full. Around 5,500 people also gave a written answer to our open-ended question “What are you missing from ‘Swiss Review’?” This feedback and the completed questionnaires have helped us to assess reader satisfaction and gain an insight into what people would like to see in the magazine in future.

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