Community news needs community feedback

Published 5:17 am Thursday, January 4, 2007

By Staff
So, here we are, in the year 'double-o seven,' looking ahead to what may impact the region during the next twelve months.
Since I took this position six months ago, quite a bit has transpired that has had people talking around this community. Elections, a noted school superintendent taking a job elsewhere, a local radio station dropping its morning show – this is all lively news that has a tangible effect on the people who live here.
As I continue to understand and grasp the intricate relationships that are present in the area, I realize I cannot do this alone. I technically do not, since I do have a staff of capable journalists, but we need the community to let us know what is happening – what's more, we need the community to tell us how they would like to see their news reported.
On Tuesday, we wrapped up our Top 10 local news articles of the year. We made our picks on what we believed had the greatest impact on the community and by how much feedback we received from the public on each piece.
Gloria Cooper leaving WNIL in the wake of the radio station's plan to change to an all-automated format was our top pick this year. This subject is one that still generates discussion at the hang-outs as well as on our reader's forum. Even today, there are new posts related to that topic.
However, we also asked our readers to submit their choices for top story of 2006 by way of our weekly online poll. As of this morning, the heart-rending story of "Lucky" the dog's survival after being thrown from a Cass County bridge is far out in front. This shows the level of importance our readers placed on Lucky, and this is the type of feedback we need to help us print what our readers want to read.
Now, there are some guidelines we do follow – most importantly, our franchise is local news. We aim to publish news that most directly impacts the community, or we will attempt to "localize" an event of national or international interest.
We do not, for example, scour dubious Web sites and reproduce the unreliable content found in cyberspace. We also do not look to practice "gotcha" journalism or get involved in rumor mongering – these are the hallmarks of supermarket tabloids, and those we are not.
We do, however, accept work from the public – either submitted photographs or submitted articles. In fact, we encourage these types of submissions – we are a community newspaper, and the community has a right to be reflected in this newspaper.
We also strongly encourage feedback from the public. While we may have an understanding of the buying habits of our readers based on subscription and circulation data, we only get sporadic response on the quality of the paper – often times, this is after we have printed something in a way in which some of our readers may disagree.
Therefore, in this year and beyond, we ask our readers to periodically and critically let us know, essentially, how we are doing.
This can be done in a variety of ways. Telephone calls, e-mail messages and letters to the letter are common ways to contact us. Also, our online reader's forum is read and reviewed by our staff every day. Failing all these options, simply stopping by our office will also get the point across.
All we are asking is for our readers to help us make their newspaper better. Therefore, let us know what you think.