the vancouver sun audience – a narrow and shrinking population?

Earlier this week the Vancouver Sun built an entire edition around the changing diversity of surnames in the city. In 1991, Smith was the most common surname in the City. Today it is Lee. In fact, the city’s top ten surnames are: Lee, Wong, Chan, Smith, Kim, Chen, Gill, Li, Brown, and finally… Johnson.

After publishing at least a half dozen articles on the subject in a single issue it is safe to say the Sun is aware of Vancouver’s evolving diversity.

But look below. As part of its coverage of the recent (and frightening) increase in murders by organized crime the Sun had one bit entitled “Reader Responses.”

Anyone else notice that all of the Sun’s “readers” are white, over-45 and, with one exception, male? Nary a Lee, a Chan, nor a Gill in the lot.

There are two possible problems here.

The first is that this actually is a representative sample of Sun readers, and the owner/editor of the newspaper should be deeply concerned. This is after all, a shrinking demographic that is not representative of the broader population.

Alternatively, the Sun’s readership is in reality more diverse and its editors or journalists chose to eschew that diversity and make this group an example of the city’s opinions.

I suspect it is a little of both.

Either way, for an industry that is failing to attract younger and more diverse readers, it doesn’t take an MBA to know things like this send a powerful message about who you believe your audience is, and who you want it to be.

5 thoughts on “the vancouver sun audience – a narrow and shrinking population?

  1. Vancouver Realtor

    I think this is more accidental than it seems. I would seriously doubt that the Sun deliberately cuts down on diversity. It could lie in cultural customs – the readers in question maybe don’t respond as much as others. I recently wrote an article about Vancouver’s History, and giving all the sad things related to social and racial tension, I wouldn’t be surprised if the response rate is affected by social and cultural programming.

    Reply
  2. Vancouver Realtor

    I think this is more accidental than it seems. I would seriously doubt that the Sun deliberately cuts down on diversity. It could lie in cultural customs – the readers in question maybe don’t respond as much as others. I recently wrote an article about Vancouver’s History, and giving all the sad things related to social and racial tension, I wouldn’t be surprised if the response rate is affected by social and cultural programming.

    Reply
  3. Rikia

    What exactly does “accidental” mean? Was it an accident that the reporter sought out people who looked just like him or her? Or an accident that none of the non white males who were approached read the Vancouver Sun?

    Thanks for pointing this out Dave. It is posts like yours that begin to spread the idea that the above spread isn’t “normal”. Back when the CBC ran its Great Canadian series, it took my then 6 year old son to ask “Why are they all boys?” before I even noticed.

    Reply
  4. Rikia

    What exactly does “accidental” mean? Was it an accident that the reporter sought out people who looked just like him or her? Or an accident that none of the non white males who were approached read the Vancouver Sun? Thanks for pointing this out Dave. It is posts like yours that begin to spread the idea that the above spread isn’t “normal”. Back when the CBC ran its Great Canadian series, it took my then 6 year old son to ask “Why are they all boys?” before I even noticed.

    Reply

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