Both of my grandmothers are dead (Or “Why you shouldn’t assume you know your audience…”)


This headline ran on a USA TODAY Network story about “senior sex,” which sought to debunk several myths about how older people feel about intimacy and carnal acts. The story itself was well researched and provided data on the issues at hand, ranging from STDs among seniors to a continuing sense of sexual attraction.

The problem for me? Both of my grandmothers have been dead for almost 15 years.

As much as I believe in a satisfying afterlife, I couldn’t get past the arrogance of the headline: “We know you, humble reader, and have a line on the sex life of your family members!”

According to its own audience metrics, almost two-thirds of its digital audience is 34 years old or older. Approximately one-third is in the 50+ range. Its print readership sits at approximately 64 percent at age 50+. At that age range, it seems highly improbably that the majority of the audience has grandparents, simply based on the math.

This is the risk you run when you assume your readers are “all like me” or allow a cute idea to override logic and fact. If you know your audience well, you can avoid these issues and make your point without whiffing like this.

Leave a Reply