Town hall meeting: Shape the Future of Your Advocate
Oct. 6, 2009 at 5:06 a.m.
To better understand whether a credibility gap exists between its print and online journalism, the Victoria Advocate sponsored a sweeping independent survey.
The Advocate will discuss the survey results during a town hall meeting Oct. 20. During the meeting, you can voice opinions that might change the future of your hometown newspaper.
The newspaper wants to hear from readers about what they value in their hometown newspaper and its Web site, Advocate Editor Chris Cobler said.
"One key question for the oldest business in Victoria is how we transfer 164 years of trust to the digital world,'' he said. "What values of the print world are critical for us to understand and extend to online?"
The University of Houston-Victoria and Center for Advanced Social Research conducted the telephone survey during June and September. The survey was conducted in conjunction with the Associated Press Managing Editors' national credibility project.
Considering today's new media environment - filled with interactivity and countless digital news platforms - this newspaper sought, in part, to learn:
How you perceive the credibility of newsroom-generated content versus user-generated content.
Whether the credibility of one form of content affects that of another.
The content you find most credible.
The independent research groups randomly surveyed 400 Victoria County adults ages 18 and older. Researchers asked to what degree you trust news articles in print and online, multimedia content, and newer platforms such as blogs and Twitter.
One survey result surprised Cobler: Readers noted only a slight difference between the credibility of signed letters to the editor and anonymous Speak Out calls.
"That's not what we hear when we talk to people. One of the core values of journalism is accountability," he said. "We wanted to learn more about how to engage readers online while remaining true to the core values of journalism."
The Advocate, the state's second-oldest daily newspaper, strives to build an online brand that connects with its Web-savvy readers, the editor said.
A few highlights from the survey:
77 percent of Advocate readers say print news articles are trustworthy, 10 percent deem the content untrustworthy and 13 percent were neutral.
75 percent of VictoriaAdvocate.com readers say online content is trustworthy, 14 percent disagreed and 11 percent were neutral.
77 percent said they trust both the Web site and print edition the same, while 19 percent said they trust the print edition more.
Those surveyed also rated much lower the credibility of longstanding opinion-page features such as editorials and letters to the editors.
That raises an interesting question to explore more at the town hall meeting, Cobler said.
"Do we damage the newspaper's credibility by having a Viewpoints page?'' he asked. "In this highly polarized time, do people still value having an opinion page as part of their daily newspaper?"