The Subscriber Poll030710
The subscriber poll results are in! Like any look in a mirror, our reflection from the subscribers revealed some nice things, and some warts and zits. It’s the blemishes we paid the most attention to.
We queried subscribers, because they are the most valued of all readers. Though it costs nothing to subscribe, we appreciate that people took the time to do so, and consider them valued friends.
This was a qualitative survey, meaning we were looking more for a sense of what readers felt, rather than a strict quantitative result. Because of this, we had a lot off opportunities to answer "other".
We asked about a series of articles, including King of Loyalton, Sierra India, Truth, Corporate Personhood, Homeless, and several others. The pieces were chosen on the basis of their length and difficulty, and the measure we were seeking here is: have we reached the useful limits of depth and length? Properly done, long dense articles are the most informative, and provide the best exploration of the subject. They also wear out the reader.
The responses to those questions revealed that many people do read those articles, but we really have reached the useful limit of an article in such a venue. Four comments dealt with the pieces being too long, and that’s about right.
What do you like least:
-The editor's wordiness!!! If you cut a few, you would have more concentrated readers.
The next question we were seeking: are we sufficiently "edgy" without going too far?
Ideally, about 20% of readers, over the course of the year, should feel we were too liberal, too libertine, or too graphic. You are hardly cutting edge if no one feels uncomfortable, now are you?
-I think it was a little too liberal
Rural Sierra India:
-It was okay, except a little to preachy
What do you like least:
An issue of on-going disagreement at the Prospect is the layout of the front page. The Dissenting Editor values order and dependability. She, like most top dollar web designers, believe that the more your site looks like other sites, the less the reader has to work to find things. Archives is an on-going complaint.
What do you like least?
-IT IS A MESS. Seriously, the layout (or lack therof?) makes it a serious amount of work to find articles. It is daunting to figure out what is where and to try to determine if I even want to read it because I can't see the lead-in to the article. I didn't even know some of these articles (which are outstanding articles) existed on the Prospect until I took the survey. Please, please, please, make it easier to read. Give us some navigation that makes sense. Help. Don't make me work to read your paper.
The Fringe Editor is ADD, likes color, and has no memory of yesterday. He finds most sites unbearably boring, and, reading dozens of on-line newspapers a day, finds he spends less that two minutes on the average site. He likes the current layout and thinks people who really want archives will go to the SITEMAP and look stuff up. The site opens to the masthead with a new photo each edition, our key links and advertisers, then the news in the left column and features in the right. Bing, Bang, Boom.
One remark dealt with the fact that the Prospect simply has too few writers. We couldn’t agree more, and it’s a problem we’ve been trying to resolve, but a major hurdle prevents having more columnists and reporters: the selfish dogs usually want to be paid. We’ve invited a number of local experts to write a periodic piece, and they say they will, but they don’t! We do have a few occasional contributors, but they whine and complain that they have jobs and lives and kids and troubled marriages to focus on. Boo hoo. If Walter Cronkite had that attitude, we’d still be fighting World War II.
What do you like least?: Naturally, Cooter got mention, as did Jerusha. One reader felt we were not correctly relating Cooter’s intention, and nope, sometimes we don’t. You see, Cooter is a free dog, uninhibited, but we serve a more or less family friendly audience, so some of Cooter’s exploits have to be softened a little. Some suggested that we extend our coverage to surrounding counties, but we can barely afford the Supervisors we have now. Are we having fun? We are! But, are our subscribers having fun? They are!
-Not enough regular columnists.
-Coverage of public meetings limited to Sierra County, which, understandably, is your territory. Your presence in Placer and Nevada Counties would be welcomed by some (politicians and bureaucrats notwithstanding).
Finally, both the Fringe Editor and the Dissenting Editor have clauses in their contracts that they must have fun at work. If forced to write too many stories from press releases, the Fringe Editor begins to fray. He eats paste, pulls the pig tails ("first I’ll clean the drapes, then the carpet!") of the girl in front of him, and suffers incontinence. The Dissenting Editor, if forced to attend boring matters, pulls the cord on the phone and hangs a towel over the computer screen and shouts "I’m drunk, go away" to Jehovah’s Witnesses when they knock.
Naturally, Cooter got mention, as did Jerusha. One reader felt we were not correctly relating Cooter’s intention, and nope, sometimes we don’t. You see, Cooter is a free dog, uninhibited, but we serve a more or less family friendly audience, so some of Cooter’s exploits have to be softened a little.
Some suggested that we extend our coverage to surrounding counties, but we can barely afford the Supervisors we have now. Are we having fun? We are! But, are our subscribers having fun? They are!
Are we having fun? We are! But, are our subscribers having fun? They are!
The Fringe Editor; Probably owned by Mad Magazine, but it was stolen 50 times before we got it.
The subscribers seemed to appreciate the snarkiness of some of the pieces, and that’s what makes it fun for us, too.
The Dissenting Editor when she’s "restive".
What do you like best:
-its attitude, if an online paper can have one.
-Iconoclasm in the Public Interest.
-Outstanding articles! Good thumb on the pulse of the area, timely, well written, seriously good humor.
Thank you so much to all the subscribers who shared their thoughts. We’ll keep your comments posted in the can, where people have time to read.
We really never forget: without your time, your eyes, your thoughts, we are mute.