We’re looking for a few good readers
Newspapers are starting to learn that, with the world changing all around us, it is dangerous to make assumptions about who their audience is. There are all sorts of ways to tap into feedback from the community. For instance, readers (and non-readers) in Nevada County are not shy about calling or e-mailing us about how they think we are doing. Some of them go out of their way to come to The Union offices to tell us in person.
But it isn’t enough to wait for people to come to us. There is a great silent majority that we need to hear from, too, and one of the ways of ensuring our ears are tuned to Nevada County is by using The Union Reader Board.
The first board was created by the former Editor John Seelmeyer earlier this year, and wrapped up just as I came on board in September. The plan was to appoint a new board right away. But a string of internal staff changes, along with my need to become more knowledgeable about the community and the pressing nature of the recent election, conspired to delay things. However, the time is right to get things rolling again.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running ads in The Union asking for people to volunteer to help us keep in touch. What will be in it for the dozen or so folks who will be selected?
For starters, we’ll give them a free subscription to The Union. But most important, they will be a part of helping us build an even better newspaper. We’ll start by telling them about the various departments at the paper – how a daily newspaper is assembled. We’ll outline our strategies for the coming year. Then we’ll shut up and listen to them as they tell us who they are, what is important in their lives, what they look to their newspaper for, and whether they are finding it.
Last time, we had regular formal meetings. This time, we’re going to try mixing it up: some one-on-one discussions about what they hear from friends about coverage, perhaps small-group gatherings to check out a new content idea, maybe asking an advisory board member with special knowledge to sit in on an Editorial Board conference.
We’ll let the public know who the board members are, so they can be conduits for feedback. We’ll take them to lunch or dinner now and then to pick their brains. We’ll encourage them to call us with ideas, or we’ll call them just to touch base.
In short, they’ll be a vital part of The Union team.
We hope to create enough applicants that we’ll have a pool from which to select a true cross-section of the community: men and women, teens to seniors, business people and laborers, longtime residents and newcomers, conservatives and liberals, social activists and soccer parents.
If we’re lucky, enough people will want to participate that we can have a regular rotation of members in and out – some wanting to serve just six months, others enjoying it enough to become involved long term.
Are you interested? If so, write or e-mail me at the addresses below. Tell me what kind of newspaper you think Nevada County should have, and how you could help The Union achieve that goal.
Do you know someone who might be interested, particularly somebody between 18 and 35? Tell them about this column, or point out one of the ads that will run in The Union over the next few weeks calling for applications.
There is no specific deadline; we want to gather as many names as possible for our applicant pool. But we hope to select the board members early in the new year so they can critique some plans we have for expanded coverage.
The news business is an exciting business, and if you’ve ever wanted to be part of it, here’s your chance. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
The Union Reader Board
c/o Richard Somerville
464 Sutton Way,
Grass Valley, CA 95945
Richard Somerville is editor of The Union. His column appears every Saturday.
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