We want more readers’ reactions in 2004

From the Editor’s Desk

One of our newspaper’s goals for 2004 is to increase participation in Project: Reader Reaction.
That’s what we call the reader participation feature in which I ask questions via e-mail on topics that range from favorite movies to war in Iraq. Participants respond by e-mail, usually in 100 words or less.
We have 45 readers signed up and most of them respond to questions at least once a month. About 20 readers respond to the majority of the questions.
The goal is to increase the roster to about 100 active participants. And I’d like more younger voices with more diverse backgrounds.
Sixty percent of the current roster is age 50 and up. More than 65 percent are men and more than 90 percent are white.
So we’re looking for more women, more young people and more ethnicity.
If you’d like to participate, send an e-mail to
david_stevens@link.freedom.com
Tell me your name, birth date, profession and telephone number. I won’t publish the phone number, but might need to call you sometime to verify information.
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Another newspaper goal for 2004 is to publish a list of public officials’ salaries.
How much does the school superintendent make? The police chief? The zoo keeper?
We report that information occasionally — when contracts are renewed, for example — but it’s been at least three years since this paper has published complete lists comparing salaries of public officials.
I think taxpayers like to be reminded what they’re paying their public servants.
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One annual feature we know readers appreciate is the list of names of those who died during the year. We publish the names in alphabetical order, with the date of death.
Readers have told us they perceive the list as a memorial as well as a reminder. Sometimes, they tell us they learn about deaths for the first time when they read the annual list.
In 2004, we plan to publish that list on Jan. 11.
We prefer to publish it on a Sunday for two reasons — we have more space in our Sunday papers and more people read Sunday papers.
We’re planning a Jan. 11 publication instead of Jan. 4 because we don’t want to leave out names of those who die in late December.
We often receive reports of deaths up to one week after they occur. The delayed publication will lessen the chances we leave somebody out.
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I’m wondering what readers might like to see in their newspapers in 2004?
More police news? Less police news?
More local commentary? Less local commentary?
Different comics? More lottery numbers? Additional weather information?
I hope you will share the ideas. The phone number and e-mail address are listed below.

From the Editor’s Desk is a weekly memo to CNJ readers. David Stevens can be reached at 763-6991, extension 310, or by e-mail:
david_stevens@link.freedom.com