Readers share their likes, dislikes
by Staff Reports
We’d like to take a moment and thank the more than 450 local residents who participated in The Newnan Times-Herald’s recent readership survey.
There was a wealth of information collected. We saw a few surprises, but more importantly, learned what stories and other products you like and don’t like — what you’d like to see more of and what you want to see less of.
This information is not going into some dark closet. Rather, we plan to focus on what the majority want to see — or not see — and use the data to continue improving your newspaper. Changes will continue to be made in our coverage, look and focus. Opinions vary, and not everyone will like all the changes. But change, especially in our focus, needs to occur so we provide you what you want.
With that said, we’d like to share with everyone what those who responded thought. The survey was conducted through a survey questionnaire available in the newspaper, as well as an online version. About 65 people turned in written responses, with just under 400 using the online survey. The vast majority of those who responded to the print questionnaire were over 60 years of age; those using the online were mostly between the ages of 35 and 64.
Overall, readers like our focus on local coverage. That was repeated over and over again, and that is and will remain our primary concentration. There were areas readers felt we covered too much, and others where we didn’t cover enough. We will address those below.
Part of the survey included the opportunity to leave comments on what readers like most, least and want more of. Top “likes” included overall local coverage, Sound Offs and the Community Forum (editorial) page.
Biggest dislikes were divisive Sound Offs, too much religion coverage, a too much “small-town” feeling and not enough of a “small-town” feeling. Like we said, opinions vary.
The other two big dislikes were paying for an online digital version and not having the newspaper on Monday and Tuesday. On the latter, we thank you that you miss two days of the paper. We do, too. The economic realities are those two days simply didn’t have the advertising support, and the cost to produce was more than we could recoup. But nothing is forever.
As to paying for the online version, that is where all newspapers and other informational sources are headed. Newspapers thought the Internet would be the Holy Grail in terms of advertising. It is not, although it plays a key role. A minority of us always opposed giving away our information. Now, the majority agree. No other industry has ever given away their entire product and remained in business. Too often we hear the comment, “Why pay for something we can get for free?”
We are addressing the online paying issue on several fronts. We plan to offer a variety of prices for different packages. One key change that will be upcoming is a “web-only” paid edition. Basically, you buy a subscription and can then just click on any story behind the paywall and read it without having to go to the digital edition. For those who want to get the digital edition — the entire newspaper in an electronic format — that will still be available. And most importantly, we will continue to focus on improving our print product.
Let’s look at what people read the most.
For online responders, the top read sections (defined as extremely or very often) are: Community Forum, 48 percent; local business and feature stories, 47 percent; state news, 53 percent; and the weekly calendar, 41 percent.
What online responders don’t read (defined as never or rarely) are: stocks, 86 percent; the TV grid, 88 percent; comics, 74 percent; senior news, 71 percent; religion, 54 percent; business, 53 percent; food, 55 percent; and health, 56 percent.
Those who responded to the print questionnaire had different takes on some sections.
Their top read sections (defined as frequently) are: food, 60 percent; comics, 60 percent, senior living, 46 percent; religion; 45 percent; Community Forum, 45 percent; and health, 42 percent.
These readers also read just about everything in the paper, thus the “negative” percentages are much lower. The least read sections (defined as never) are: stocks, 33 percent; TV grid, 32 percent; and comics, 20 percent.
So what did all this tell us?
Readers in both the online and print responses want more local entertainment coverage. That was far and away the biggest change desired — 77 percent of online and 88 percent of print responders. Both groups also want more coverage of local businesses and feature stories on local residents.
The majority believe our crime coverage is about right, as well as coverage of charities. In sports coverage, more high school coverage was the highest request, with college in second place.
Few read the stocks or use the TV grid. The vast majority don’t read senior news, religion or business and health news.
What you’ve told us is you want us to continue focuses on overall local coverage — whether it’s sports, news, entertainment, businesses and local features. And that’s where we will focus.
Again, thank you for taking the time to respond. Your opinions matter, because the Newnan Times-Herald is your newspaper.