I also need to add that some folks were not comfortable with going online to fill out a survey. I received phone calls and emails, and was thankful to get those, as well. I’m willing to listen in whatever way suits you best.
So, what do you like? So far, the strongest likes went to community news, editorial and opinion, community events, features, and letters to the editor. At the bottom of the list were the TV listings and the horoscope. Since we dedicate a lot of space to the TV listings, and pay a company to provide us with those listings, it makes me wonder if we should be using that space to better cover local events.
With regard to the Views page, we received some interesting feedback. On one hand, folks wanted to see a variety of opinions. On the other hand, there was some backlash regarding Steve and Cokie Roberts’ column as being too liberal, and not reflecting the way we think in Wilson County. Fortunately, with the people who called me on this issue, it was agreed that the Roberts’ column was pretty much the only liberal voice in the newspaper, having a variety of opinions was good and that there really wasn’t a better written liberal column that comes to mind, so maybe we should just let that be.
Several suggestions made were implemented. First, it was brought to our attention that our events calendar on page 2 could use some work. Specifically, events should be things for our readers to do. All too often, it was clogged with government committee meetings and job fairs, which are important, but probably not the most fun thing for our readers to do. So we made some changes. Job fairs will no longer run in the event calendar. We will have a job fair classification in our classified section, and the newsroom will mention them in stories as space allows. A new calendar called “The People’s Agenda” was created. This way, we can continue to publicize these important meetings in one spot where our readers will know to look for them.
Another item you may notice is that we have added Dear Abby to our newspaper. We received feedback that folks who moved here from other areas and were used to having an advice column in their newspaper and wondered why we didn’t. I wondered about that, too. So now we have it. Thanks for the suggestion.
Another suggestion was to be more specific on how our elected officials vote on items. Xavier Smith covers most of these meetings, and I believe he has been doing a good job of recording votes on any split decision. I hope you have noticed this, too.
Finally, I’d like to thank those who took the time to fill out the survey, call or email their thoughts to me. I hope the changes mentioned above meet with your approval. And I am also sure that some of you have thought about doing the survey or contacting me but never got to it. Well, you’re in luck. The survey will stay active until June 30, although I hope you won’t take that long to get to it, and I am still taking calls and emails. As a reminder, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 444-3952, ext. 12. If I’m not in, please leave a message. I’ll call you back. I promise.
It is my hope that I will hear from even more of you and get more ideas as to how to make The Democrat a better newspaper. With luck, I will be writing another column in a few months that discusses the changes you suggested and how we put them in place.
Now, about those TV listings. Do they stay or do they go? Let me know what you think.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I appreciate it very much.
George Coleman is president and publisher of Lebanon Publishing Co.