As we hurtle toward the end-of-year holidays, many media outlets dust off their familiar holiday playbooks for reaching audiences through the final shopping days of December. Many radio stations switch to holiday music formats, television stations start airing the usual assortment of seasonal shows, and newspapers grow heavy with pre-printed inserts and holiday advertising promoting the perfect gift for the last person on your shopping list.

There is no shortage of holiday clichés. And, while some people experience the trappings of the season as little more than an annual inconvenience, I — for one — find the familiar fixtures of the holidays to be comforting and even reassuring — especially at the end of a year as tumultuous as this one.

Things are not as bleak in the newspaper industry as they are made out to be.
Things are not as bleak in the newspaper industry as they are made out to be.

I tend toward the sentiments of the late American television personality, author, and educator, Fred Rogers (of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood), who said, “I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favourite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.”

In that spirit, I offer to you a variant of The Twelve Days of Christmas (talk about clichés!) with a focus on U.S. newspaper audiences. And while there are no French hens or calling birds on this list, there are a few “golden rings” that should warm the heart of the even the Scroogiest advertiser.

  1. More than half (55%) of U.S. adults age 18+ read a printed daily or Sunday newspaper, read an electronic edition of a newspaper, or visit a newspaper Web site each week. That’s 137 million U.S. adults.
  2. More than 26% of U.S. adults have read a newspaper on a mobile device in the past 30 days. That’s nearly 66 million adults.
  3. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — reach 63% of U.S. adults with annual household incomes of US$100K or more.
  4. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — are read by 65% of U.S. adults who are college graduates, have attended graduate school, or have earned post-graduate degrees.
  5. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — reach 60% of U.S. adults who are employed in professional or managerial occupations.
  6. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — are read by 62% of U.S. adults who say they always vote in local, statewide, and presidential elections.
  7. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — reach 64% of U.S. adults who own stocks, stock options, bonds, or mutual funds.
  8. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — are read by 60% of U.S. adults whose households plan to spend US$35K or more on a new vehicle in the next 12 months.
  9. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — reach 60% of U.S. adults who spent US$2,500 or more on online purchases in the past 12 months.
  10. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — are read by 64% of U.S. adults who took 10 or more domestic airline round trips in the past 12 months.
  11. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — reach 57% of U.S. adults who visited a casino in the past 12 months.
  12. Each week, newspapers — in print or online — reach 54% of U.S. adults who visited a bridal shop, 57% of adults who visited a day spa, 60% of adults who shopped at a jewelry store, 63% of adults who used a florist, and 65% of adults who used a dry cleaners in the past three months.

Newspaper media reach affluent, educated adults who are shoppers, buyers, travelers, voters, investors, and more. And no other local medium can deliver this audience the way newspapers — on all their various platforms — can. I could go on, but I’ve used up the 12 days of Christmas.

Keeping with the theme of familiar holiday traditions, I’d like to leave you with a paragraph from the most widely reprinted newspaper editorial of all time. It first appeared in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897, and I think the sentiment expressed here is as salient today as it was 120 years ago.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Happy holidays, one and all.