Monday, February 4, 2013

Reactions to the new Oneida Daily Dispatch

We produced our first Sunday paper on Saturday. 
It wasn't perfect, but we did get it completed on time. I expect each edition will be better than the last.
A group of people came into the office on Sunday and shared their opinion about the three-day printing schedule, the bold new design, some errors we overlooked and at least one awful mistake that hits you in the face.
Yes, I'm talking about the unreadable first page of out new Sunday comics section.
The only thing to do about that is to re-run it. You'll find it on page B5 of today's edition.
Sorry. The people who handle that page have figured out what went so horribly wrong and are changing their procedures to ensure it never happens again.
From talking with readers on the phone and those who came out to Sunday's Community Media Lab event, many readers have some similar objections:
• They want the paper to continue being printed and delivered six days a week. In earlier columns and blog entries, I explained why this decision was made and how 6-day delivery would be unaffordable for us and for our subscribers . I know many people, especially older people,  like newspapers printed on paper. I'm one of them. I liked newspapers so much, I chose producing them for my career. But it's clear that younger people prefer their news on their computers, tablets and smartphones. If we are going to survive another 163 years, we must provide what these readers want, too.
• The story type is too small; the photos and headlines are too big. I agree. While there are many aspects of the bold, modern redesign I love, ultimately it's about the reader. Since many newspaper readers tend to be older, the type should be larger and easier to read. This is a corporate-wide look the Journal Register newspapers are adopting, and we're one of the first. I'll emphatically pass on the feedback, I'm sure they will listen. I wish I could just wave my hand and fix it, but it will take time.
I've been talking to a lot of readers, and I don't want make it sound like all I'm hearing are gripes.
People are noticing that there's more local news.
Some people love the new design (these people have good eyes).
Since we're pledging to provide more content, we've received some excellent suggestions we're already working on.
Some people said the new design looks too much like a big-city paper; we've lost our small-town neighborly feel. I smiled at this one; it's the same thing people were saying almost 12 years ago, the last time this newspaper installed a new computer system and took on a new look. 
Over the coming weeks, we'll get better at using this new equipment and format; I know readers will get used to finding the new spots for their favorite features.
The news staff will work hard to gather more local news and I'll do my best to lobby for some tweaks in the new design.
Meanwhile, look for more frequent updates to our website, Facebook page and even this blog as we begin to master these powerful tools.
It's your newspaper; we only work here.


Read my earlier blog about the 3-day decision: http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=7776139599083959135#editor/target=post;postID=3274458841749805219

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