At the Kimball Business Expo in March, we took a 4-page survey. We learned a lot about what our readers read, and how they read it.
There were some surprises, and some things we pretty much knew.
Many of our readers read from cover to cover, often in one sitting. Some save it for weekend reading.
What do our readers read most? Weddings and anniversaries and birth announcements. Not a surprise that lots of people read them, but a pleasant surprise that they’re top for readers.
In second place it’s a tie: news about local events, and school news. Nearly everyone reads them, and the highest number of respondents want even more school news.
Number 3 among our readers, with a whopping 96 percent? Advertising. Yes, you read that right: 96 percent of our readers read the ads, and a few want even more ads. (I attribute this to our incredibly talented graphic artist, Sue Hughes. Her ads “sing” on the page.
Next are birthday ads, and my column. I don’t always get to write here each week, but I do take it seriously.
In fact, we take our role as your community newspaper very seriously. We recognize that we’re only the current caretaker of this historical record of our communities. And it’s our responsibility to do all we can to make sure that it’s here 10, 20, even 50 years from now.
Oh, the least read part of our newspaper, at 35 percent: the crossword puzzle. (Sorry, LH and BH.)
We kind of expected more survey respondents to indicate that they checked our website every single day. (insert chuckle here) While our website is popular and well visited (more than 30,000 unique visitors each month), not all of our newspaper readers are using it. That’s okay. Personally, I use it all the time to double-check something, or look something up. It’s actually a treasure trove that way: so much local information that’s so handy!
No surprise here. What’s the most-read section of our website? The obituaries. We upload obituaries to the website as soon as we receive them. And our obituaries are kept online forever, so you can always find them easily. (You also can print or e-mail them any time you’d like.)
Community Events is another thing our website users look for often. We spend a lot of time each week updating the community calendar online. If it’s possible, there may be too much there. It just shows, though, what a vibrant and active community we all live in!
We appreciate your feedback, whether in a formal survey or an e-mail or comment on the street.
We also cherish your participation. We need you to let us know when things are happening, either at the schools, in organizations, at churches, etc. In this day of instant communication, it’s easy to take for granted that we already know something. Often times, we’re the last to hear about it. We’re easy to reach by phone, e-mail, or just catching us when we’re out and about.
This is what we do, all we do: producing a weekly community newspaper that we hope all can be proud of.
We’ve been called “the friendly paper” because we include news and events of local communities, without divisiveness or elitism. What’s good for one is good for all.
We’ve heard from several subscribers out of town – and even out of state – that they get more from our little paper than they do from their own local papers.
Every day we’re thankful to be independent, and not beholden to a corporate office, or to special interests. We are free to do our job to the best of our abilities, and to adjust course quickly in response to our readers’ needs.
The paper that you are reading now is the very core of what we do. It is not a peripheral, lately-added project. It is us. It is you, too.