Some comments from the Journal reader survey, and our thoughts in response

Thank you to everyone who took part in the recent reader survey. A lower response rate makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions as to trends, though we were pleased at the high overall satisfaction level: 79% agree that the Journal does a good job in keeping up with legal changes, 75% say the same about changes in the profession, and 74% agree that it is a high-quality magazine. However, there were some critical comments, and here we offer our thoughts on some of these.

We know it is not possible to please everyone. This is particularly so when one reader describes the Journal as “very commercial-centric”, and another as not having much for the high street practice; when one says it “still feels oriented to a wealthy, male audience” and another that it is “terribly biased towards female entrants”; when one calls for “more in-depth, Scotland-specific features” and another accuses it of being “embarrassingly parochial”. It is a magazine for the whole membership, and it tries to reflect the whole membership as best it can.

There may be some truth in the comment: “The Journal tries to be all things to all people and it is perhaps not clear enough that it is edited and compiled completely independently from the Law Society of Scotland.” It is not the “mouthpiece of Drumsheugh Gardens”: the great majority of the content comes from elsewhere, though of course the Journal has a role in communicating what the Society is doing on behalf of the profession. There have been fewer divisive issues affecting the profession of late; hopefully if and when the next big one happens, the Journal will again play a full role in airing the arguments.

A few questioned whether it was worth the cost, one reader asking for “an article justifying the expense on the Journal and the cost savings if it were online only”. In fact, the magazine is once again bringing in enough advertising to cover its costs, so no one’s money is being “wasted”.

Nor do we think the charge is justified that there is not much variety in contributors. Yes, we depend on some regulars, particularly in the briefing section; we are grateful to all those who give so freely of their time, which helps ensure regular content on significant areas of practice and enables us to devote more time to diversity in other sections. We always encourage potential contributors.

Paper or online?

Should it be paper or online? Those who ask why it is still being printed are outnumbered by those who prefer paper because it gives them a break from their screens. But don’t forget the extra content online, as p 4 of each issue describes! There are even some who manage to miss all the references to the website and claim not to have heard of it. One reader did protest about us referring readers to the website for the conclusion of an article. We accommodate the Profile column this way, but usually if there is parallel content, the magazine contains a more concise version of the whole article, or occasionally a self contained part. Here at least we can satisfy most people’s preferences by continuing with both formats.

For those who don’t want Ask Ash, Word of Gold or whatever, we keep all content under review but these features also have their strong supporters. One reader complains about giving space to Reading for Pleasure, but this is negligible since the magazine only carries a driver to online content. The review editor provides it voluntarily as an extra, so we hope some enjoy it.

We aren’t ignoring those who ask for more lighter content, but you can imagine that other pressures often limit what we can do here. (And we understand the Marsh Christmas competition may be a new year one this time.)

Finally, we sympathise with one comment at least: “I just wish I had more time to read it.” To all our readers, contributors, advertisers and suppliers, very best wishes for the festive season and for 2016.

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