The idea of an international Symposium on readership research was born in London in the Spring of 1979. In 1980 Dawn Mitchell, President of the Worldwide Readership Research Symposium wrote “The object of the Symposia is to start a dialogue, principally among research practitioners … about the methods we use, the lessons we have learned from experimental work and to discover in what ways we can further the pursuit of knowledge of testing and validating each others’ theories.” Since then it has become a truly international forum for discussion and dissemination of the most innovative ideas in readership research.
Since its inception, the Symposia have been sponsored by two leading market research companies Ipsos Media (Richard Silman) and KMR Group (Andy Brown) and take place approximately every two years in a different location around the world starting with New Orleans in 1981.
In the early Symposia the identification of the methodological factors which bear on the accurate measurement of the audiences of newspapers and magazines were focussed upon, as was the problem of validation of the readership models used. The correction of flawed procedures and the invention of new procedures, often inspired by new technology, were the main subjects of subsequent debates. Attention was also put on issues concerning the print medium in the planning process, as well as on survey issues such as public cooperation and response rates.
Who should attend and format
The Worldwide Readership Research Symposium, which is traditionally a relaxed and friendly conference, is attended by the world’s leading media researchers, publishers, advertisers and advertising agents. Typically, 200 delegates from about 30 countries attended each symposium, joining in the lively discussion sessions.
The synopses and papers
For each Symposium a Programme Chairman and international Committee is elected comprising leading readership researchers, publishers and advertising agents. Synopses are invited about nine months prior to each Symposium from which the Committee has the task of choosing approximately 55-60 papers covering all aspects of print media research to be delivered at each Symposium. The Call for Synopses is mailed to as many relevant people as the Secretariat know about!