A survey of editorial writers of daily newspapers to determine the importance they place on conservation issues and organizations
Dudas, James M.
MetadataShow full item record
After 18 years of steady income growth averaging 20 percent a year, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., an international waterfowl conservation organization, began experiencing declining growth. Officials believed the decline was caused by a shrinking base of waterfowl hunters, traditionally the organization's main source of members. Officials concluded that for the organization to grow, it must attract members from the ranks of non-hunting conservationists and women—two audiences that Ducks Unlimited had generally ignored—to its membership banquets held throughout the country. To reach those audiences, the organization sought to increase its public awareness through state, regional and local media. Prior to developing a public relations program aimed at the media, Ducks Unlimited sought to determine, through a survey of editorial writers, the public's knowledge and perception of conservation issues and organizations. The mail survey was conducted using a two-page questionnaire with 13 yes/no or multiple choice questions. The questionnaire was sent to chief editorial writers at 500 randomly selected newspapers with a cover letter. The first questionnaire was followed by a second, two weeks later. There were 202 valid responses. Among the most significant—though not necessarily surprising—findings was that editorial writers believe they have a responsibility to direct public policy and that they should address environmental concerns. Respondents' knowledge of the role of wetlands in the environment was low as was their knowledge of Ducks Unlimited's activities. They did not understand, for example, the important part wetlands play in controlling water pollution. But their willingness to address such issues could improve the chances of a well-designed and properly executed public relations program focused toward editorial writers.