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Q: Data about consumers contacting magazines and big companies ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Data about consumers contacting magazines and big companies
Category: Business and Money > eCommerce
Asked by: coreymegan-ga
List Price: $101.00
Posted: 13 Nov 2006 09:33 PST
Expires: 13 Dec 2006 09:33 PST
Question ID: 782380
I'm in search of several data points to support the following statement:
"Over the last decade, the amount of inbound feedback received by
organizations has gone up dramatically."

So, I'd like to know about the volume of letters to the editor to a
major magazine or newspaper, or the inbound call center activity at a
company like Kraft or other non-sales organization. It would be useful
to know how many people have been hired by Starbucks over time to man
their 800 number of answer their inbound emails.

and not just consumer facing companies. What about Fedex or Chubb Insurance? 

Hard data is best (year by year, graphable) but anecdotal data in the
form of a quote from the right person is pretty good too. 

I don't have a specific checklist of what I want, I just know that at
least three great examples would consitute the perfect answer.
Subject: Re: Data about consumers contacting magazines and big companies
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 14 Nov 2006 16:18 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Coreymegan,

The results of my research for data about consumers contacting
magazines, newspapers or companies is as follows:

According to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), call volume
received by newspaper circulation departments has increased over the

?The call volume received by newspaper circulation departments has
increased over the years as newspapers have assumed responsibility for
the billing and problem resolution functions that were once shouldered
by the newspaper carrier. With this evolution almost complete, the
circulation customer service department or call center is accepting a
more active role in acquiring and retaining subscribers. Much of this
is possible as the customer service function becomes more automated
and subscribers demonstrate a willingness to accept automated systems
as a simple and efficient method of interacting with the newspaper for
routine transactions.?

NAA Circulation Facts, Figures & Logic ?05 
Newspaper Association of America


E-mail has increased the volume of letters to the editor received by
newspapers across the country. The speed and ease with which writers
can respond to news coverage and opinions that appear in the
publications they read also opens the door to new opportunities for
newspapers to become more current in their daily dialog with readers.

Source: Keep the spotlight on readers
Masthead, The,  Winter 2000  by Carson, Richard W

According to newspaper editorial page editors, E-mail has increased
the number of letters to the editor newspapers receives.

?For editorial page editors, e-mail has been a blessing, though not an
unqualified one. E-mail has increased the number of letters to the
editor newspapers receive, but the quality of letters has declined

What they say:

 ?We now receive far more letters via e-mail and digitally through a
form on our Web site than we receive in the regular mail. The letters
we receive by snail mail are generally from older readers, while the
e-mail letters are generally from younger ones.  We have come to the
conclusion that many of the e-mail letters were shot off in the heat
of the moment and, had the authors taken more time to reflect or cool
off, would have never been sent in the first place. I don't have
numbers for this, but that's a general impression.?
Carroll Wilson, editor 
Wichita Falls Times in Texas 


 ?Our experience has been generally positive. E-mail has increased our
volume of letters substantially without reducing the quality. E-mail
senders seem to make a distinction between communicating among friends
with e-mail and using it as a convenient and quick way to submit
letters to the editor.?
John Gates, editorial page editor 
Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina

 ?I think the quality of letters to the editor has gone up since we've
started taking a lot of e-mail. I haven't really studied to see
whether that's because of the influx of e-mail or in spite of it. If
it is indeed because of it, that would be because there are quite a
few thoughtful people out there who don't have time to sit down and
write a letter, but will write a nice e-mail.?
Brad Warthen, editorial page editor 
The State in Columbia, S.C. 

 ?The quality is sometimes as emotional as a telephone answering
device is, but e-mail has greatly increased the numbers and the
quickness of responses to issues.?
Jerry Husband, editorial page editor 
The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C. 

 ?First, I do not believe that e-mail has produced more letters.
People who send e-mail today would have used fax three years ago.?
John Hughes, letters editor 
The Sacramento Bee 

E-mail: Is it a blessing or a curse?
Masthead, The,  Summer 2000  by Hyde, Paul



"The Starbucks Customer Contact Center is located in the Starbucks
Support Center (Corporate Headquarters) in the SODO area of Seattle,
near Safeco Field. There are 3 business areas that the Center
supports; 1) Customer service for the Starbucks Card (stored value
card), 2) Warranty and customer service for brewing machines sold in
the retail stores, and 3) Starbucks Customer Relations"

Year 2006

The total number of staff of the center is 130, including 120 reps of
which there are a combination of phone and email/correspondence reps.

Year 2005

The total number of staff of the center is 105, including 83 reps of
which there are a combination of phone and email/correspondence reps.


The Seattle Times

?Each year, The Seattle Times receives about 35,000 letters to the
editor ? about 100 a day. That number will spike this year because of
extraordinary reader reaction to the debate about this photo of war
and its consequences. Not since Sept. 11, 2001, have the letters
reached the current volume on a single topic within a few days.?

The Seattle Times: April 25, 2004


The News & Observer 

?The N&O last year received more than 14,000 letters to the editor,
and 3,400 were published. Maybe you'll be as surprised as I am to
learn that those numbers are up from about 6,300 in 1995, with 2,700

?Steve Ford, The N&O's editorial page editor, attributes the surge in
letters since the mid-1990s in part to the growth of e-mail, which
allows readers to respond quickly to an article or editorial. But the
growth also is fed, he says, by the letters themselves, which usually
make grade-A reading. "I think publishing high-quality letters breeds
high-quality letter submissions," he said.?

News & Observer 
Monday, October 10, 2005On letters to the editor 
Sunday's Public Editor column:


Telling It Like It Is: Letters To The Editor Discuss Journalism Ethics
in 10 American Magazines, 1962-1972-1982-1992.

?This research examines what consumers of news have written about
journalism ethics over the past 30 years in letters to the editor. To
obtain a national view, letters to the editor from 1962, 1972, 1982
and 1992 published in 10 news magazines were examined.?

?The 10 magazines studied represent a cross-section of the magazine
field, ranging from the conservative business publication, Forbes, to
the left-wing Nation, with mainstream magazines such as Time and
Newsweek, which each week sell 4 million and 3 million copies
respectively, included. Then for a different perspective, considerably
smaller and more specialized publications such as The Progressive,
which sells only 40,000 copies a month, and The Nation, which sells
roughly 80,000 copies a month, were also examined.?

The breakdown is as follows. 

In 1962 the 10 magazines published a total of 3,661 letters to the editor 

1962     3,661
1972     3,727 letters to the editor
1982     3,943 letters 
1992     3,693 letters

I hope the information provided is helpful!

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by coreymegan-ga on 15 Nov 2006 04:48 PST
Hi Bobbie

this is a pretty good start, especially the N&O fact. Much of the data
you presented is 5 or more years old, in one case, 14 years old...

I didn't want you to be so literal (Starbucks, for example). What I'm
looking for here are facts that reflect a significant trend over the
last ten years. In other words, "Are organizations seeing dramatically
more inputs from consumers due to ease of contact?" So, the letters to
the editor chart at the end doesn't help... too dated, not relevant.

The answer you've given is acceptable. More data (that's recent) would
make it exceptional. Thanks.

Clarification of Answer by bobbie7-ga on 15 Nov 2006 04:58 PST
Hello again Coreymegan,

Thank you for your clarifcation. I'll resume my search and hopefully
I'll find some more information for you.


Clarification of Answer by bobbie7-ga on 15 Nov 2006 08:45 PST
Dear Coreymegan,

Below you will find additional information.
I hope it is useful.  


In 2005, the newspaper (Folha) received 33,005 letters (9% more than in 2004).


?In 1996, the newspaper had circulation of 519,000 copies a day and
the ombudsman received 6,201 messages, 19.32% of them by email. Now,
we should end 2005 with an average daily circulation of 308,000 copies
and the ombudsman received 10,688 messages, 95% of them by email.

?The use of letters received at Letters to the Editor is slight. In
2005, the newspaper received 33,005 letters (9% more than in 2004) and
published 2,722 (6% fewer). In 2004, it used 9.1% of the letters sent;
in 2005, it was 8.25%.?

The section published on Sunday is an indication of letters received
on a topic. There it is clear how the topics of biggest interest by
readers get little space. I did a survey of five weeks, from Nov. 28
to Jan. 1. During this period, the newspaper received 2,775 letters,
published 254 (9.2%), since 49 (19% of letters published) refer to the
topic of biggest interest by readers, and 60 (24%) were penned by
public relations professionals or people exercising the legitimate
right of response.?

Folha Online: 08/01/2006


The community conversation continues to build in volume
by ART COULSON  (Posted on Sun, Jul. 18, 2004)

?The number of letters we receive from readers continues to climb,
almost exponentially. That's both good and bad news ? good because
it's an indication of a thoughtful and engaged citizenry willing to
participate in the vital civic conversation; bad because our space for
letters has not increased at the same pace, which means we must leave
many thoughtful, well-written letters on the cutting room floor each

In the first half of this year, we received 8,011 letters to the
editor, just shy of the 8,183 we received in all 12 months of 1999.
The six-month total is a 614-letter increase over the same period last
year, even though we had one of our biggest months ever in March 2003
? when we received 1,947 letters in the run-up to the war in Iraq. The
volume continues to build, and we expect it to explode as we head into
the meat of the fall election season.?

Pioneer Press


From the Readership Institute:

The Edmond Sun (OK)

?An e-mail database of volunteer readers has also proved to be
popular, with the managing editor sending out questions twice weekly
and printing the responses on the Viewpoints page. The volume of
submitted Letters to the Editor has increased dramatically.?

The Daily Courier (Forest City, NC)
?Increased letters to editor ten-fold?

?The Readership Institute is a division of the Media Management Center
at Northwestern University. It focuses on actionable research,
field-testing of readership-building ideas and measurement of their
success, and education and training for the newspaper industry on
readership-building best practices.?


?We've only been accepting e-mail letters for about a year. And we're
getting more letters than ever; only fewer of them come to us via
snail mail or fax. And that's fine, because it means ever fewer
letters to scan or, worse, type into the system.?

E-mail inspiring a 'Sun' revolution
Masthead, The,  Summer 2000  by Cunningham, Ron


Ron Dzwonkowski is editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press states:

?Any editorial page editor on the job since the mid-'pos can attest to
e-mail as both boon and bane. It has greatly multiplied reader
correspondence. People who just a few years ago would never have
dreamed of putting pen to paper to write a letter to the editor now
think nothing of turning to the keyboard and firing off an e-mail
about some current event or the day's lead editorial. In many cases,
the reader is already at the keyboard, checking out the paper online
and taking advantage of one-click links that preclude even screwing up
an e-mail address.?

?On the upside, gone are the days when newspapers may have fretted
about having enough mail to fill the allotted space or resorting to
the use of long, boring letters in response to other letters. There's
never a shortage of material now. And because the reaction comes in
more quickly, the letters are more timely. Many papers post
non-published letters on their websites, too, engaging e-writers in an
even broader discussion.?


Regarding the The Florida Times-Union:

 ?I spoke with Lloyd Brown, the editorial page editor, this afternoon
about their treatment of letters to the editor. He pointed out that he
does have a letters editor, BTW.?

?He wasn't sure about the most up-to-date numbers, but he said that
last year the paper averaged about 30 letters a day, with room for
only six or so. Brown had the following stats for a six-week period in
1998: 925 letters with 418 by mail, 299 by fax and 208 by e-mail. He
estimated that they get a lot more by e-mail now.?


?Since 1999, e-mail volumes to the House had been increasing by 50% or
more each year. In 2001, the House received 78% more e-mail than it
did in 2000. However, based on the volumes for the first six months of
this year, the volume of e-mail to the House is projected to increase
by just 2.5% over last year!?

?Inbound e-mail to Members of Congress continues to remain at
staggering levels, but offices appear to be improving their ability to
handle the volume. From 1999 - 2002 (projecting this year's numbers
using six months of data), inbound e-mail to House Members increased
186%. Inbound e-mail for a similar period to Senators increased 69%.
However, the increase in the amount of inbound e-mail to the House
this year has slowed significantly, from an increase of 78% in 2001 to
a projected increase of 2.5% this year. Also surprising is that the
Senate is not experiencing a similar leveling of e-mail volumes.
E-mail volume to the Senate increased 22% in 2001 and is projected to
increase 24% in 2002.

Despite the respite for House Members, they are still swimming in a
sea of online communications. The House and Senate received 117
million inbound e-mail messages in 2001. On an average day, House
offices received 234,245 e-mail messages and Senate offices get

Congress Online: Special Report
E-mail Overload In Congress - Update 
August 7, 2002


Clarion  Ledger Editorial Director David Hampton states: ?E-mail
letters to the editor have increased tremendously. We now get them
from across the country and around the world from Mississippians who
follow the news on our Web site,


?Traveline Scotland selected beCogent, a provider of outsourced
contact centre services, to handle its inbound customer enquiry calls.
Since its launch, Traveline has expanded from an initial 1,800 calls
per week to 12,000 per week, prompting rapid development of its
relationship with beCogent.?
coreymegan-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00

Subject: Re: Data about consumers contacting magazines and big companies
From: bobbie7-ga on 15 Nov 2006 19:29 PST
Thank you very much for the five star rating and generous tip!


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