Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » If a paper (or any business) never changes, it will die

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We consider change a constant state of the newspaper business in the 21st century. We have to keep looking for ways to grow readership while continuing to satisfy our longtime loyal readers. That's a challenging task, but one critical to our future.

I share a reader's e-mail below to give others a chance to weigh in as well. As I note in my response that follows, we're planning a major readership survey this year. While we want to do all we can to satisfy all of our existing readers, our future hinges on attracting new ones, too.


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Dear Sirs:
                I am writing about the format of the Advocate.  All of the recent changes have left many people upset.  I own and operate a small business that takes me into customers homes, and it seems that the Advocate is always a subject of conversation.  I have yet to find one single subscriber that likes the current format.  Personally, all of the "Hollywood" news can go,  its old news  by the time it makes print, and the entertainment business has no effect on this area.  The local news that should be there seems to have trickled down to just bare basics.   Most of the people that I talk with say they will not renew  their subscriptions.
 
Might I suggest that you poll your customers, learn their ages, find out what is important to them and format your publication accordingly.
 
Also I will add that the front page article with the large picture of a convicted murderer on the left and a small, and seemingly non-important picture of the victim on the bottom right was in  very poor taste, and extrermely unprofessional.  Without changes, i'll probably not renew my subscription either.
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Thank you for writing. If I'm understanding your concerns correctly, you want to see more local news reported. We do emphasize local news above all else. In terms of local news, what else would you like to see us covering?
 
Regarding the celebrity news in the paper, we have heard many positive comments about our new page A2, which includes photos contributed by local readers.
 
We are planning a major readership survey in the coming months and will ask the questions you suggest, along with many others. We certainly want to appeal to the largest possible audience in the Crossroads region. Our print circulation sales and online readership both indicate we are doing much better than a year ago at this time, but we recognize there's always room for improvement.
 
If you ever have suggestions for coverage or any other changes to the newspaper, feel free to contact me again. We appreciate getting feedback from our readers. 
 
Sincerely,
 
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Chris Cobler
Editor
Victoria Advocate
ccobler@vicad.com
361-574-1271