Thank you to the nearly 6,400 readers who accepted our invitation to tell us what you expect from the Arizona Daily Star’s Sunday print edition.
This morning I’d like to share highlights of what we heard and how we intend to make the Star more valuable to you, our customers.
Our survey asked readers to rate their interest in 20 news topics and types of advertising. Readers put “investigation of important issues” at the top of their list. Newspapers have a long tradition of watchdog reporting, so it’s no surprise that you rely on us to do this work.
Investigative reporting — which we broadly define as revealing how public money is spent and how government and business operate — has always been a priority in our newsroom. As far back as 2000, editors began scoring each day’s paper to ensure that we average at least one watchdog story a day.
We’ve often fallen short in the past few years. So last summer we hired an additional reporter and reorganized to commit more resources to investigative reporting. One of the first results was a weeklong series explaining the root causes and solutions to Tucson’s high level of childhood poverty.
Since then, we’ve continued to make progress toward our goal. Recent examples include the just-ended series that revealed wide variation in enforcement of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law, and two in-depth stories on internal turmoil that has impaired transplant services at the University of Arizona Medical Center. We used the federal Freedom of Information Act to obtain an audit that showed wasteful spending and financial mismanagement at the Udall Foundation. And we compared how long it takes Tucson and other Arizona cities to respond to pothole complaints.
These are a few of the other things readers said in emailed notes and responses to open-ended questions in the survey:
• Many of you asked that we resume weekly gardens coverage. Look for that to return to the Home+Life section later this month. You also asked us to re-institute the A1 index of what’s inside to make it easier to find the weather page, lottery results and other popular content. The index is back.
- Large numbers of readers asked for less crime and accident news. We know that too much creates the perception that the Star is packed with bad news. Still, it’s a fine line. You may have no interest in a drive-by shooting across town, but when it happens nearby, you expect the Star to report what happened.
We’re acting on your concern in two ways. First, we’ve started to publish more crime news online in our Police Beat blog than we do in the print edition. If you want to follow crime news, read the blog (azstarnet.com/policebeat). Second, we aim to organize our crime and accident news on one or two pages, where readers can flip past if they want to skip the subject.
- Many of you complained about sloppy editing — misspellings, bad grammar and dropped words. Our staff certainly knows the difference between “its” and “it’s,” and we are embarrassed when the wrong one is published. Errors are slipping by, in part, because editors are working faster to do more, frequently posting news and updates online as well as editing stories and writing headlines and captions for the print edition.
We’ve reminded our journalists to take a second look at copy, with an eye to mechanical errors that are easy to make. We’ve also scheduled a refresher meeting where copy editors will talk to colleagues about the most common errors they spot and fix.
- Finally, a few words about those half-sheet advertisements that wrap around sections. Hundreds of you called them an annoyance. That’s how I feel about comics, the horoscope, advice columns and all baseball stories; I grumble that they fill space better used for news.
Yet, I also know that there’s a large audience for this entertainment and sports information, and that those half-sheet ads effectively catch the eye of shoppers who want a deal on milk or tickets to an event. The half sheets, like the comics, are here to stay.
- Over the next few months, our leadership team will write about other changes we are planning in response to your suggestions. Meanwhile, we continue to welcome your feedback. Email addresses and phone numbers for our key business and news leaders appear on Page A2 every day. Reporters include their contact information at the end of stories.
A good day for a journalist is when our work provokes a response — praise, a suggestion or even a complaint. When we hear from you, it tells us how much you value the Star and our role in building an informed, engaged community. On behalf of our staff, thanks to all 6,400 readers who provided feedback to our survey.