by Deverick Martin
We've just finished poring over the many responses that we received to our January 2000 reader survey. First of all, I offer many thanks to all of you who took the time to provide thoughtful comment to help us chart our next steps. I also want to say a sincere and humble "thank you" for your overwhelming validation of our work.
You may be interested in who reads The New Times. Our typical reader is a well-educated woman, living with one other adult, who reads The New Times regularly and has done so for years. Our readers are twice as likely as the general population of Seattle to have a graduate or professional degree.
Our 2000 survey asked readers what kinds of articles they'd like to see more and less of, and the responses consistently showed a clear theme: they want our editorial content to be practical, grounded, and succinct. Dozens used the phrase "airy-fairy" to describe what they aren't looking for, saying that they look to us for useful, "how-to" information and inspiration that they can apply to their own lives. We've just printed new submission guidelines to reflect this.
The topic that our readers most want to see, by far, is spirituality. Other favorite topics frequently mentioned are health and nutrition, intuitive arts and sciences, self-care, current events, and spiritual healing and energywork.
Our most-enjoyed writer, by far, is Cat Saunders. She also generated lots of controversy in the survey, since there were a number of readers who wanted to see less of her work. However, she received a sweeping six-to-one lead in supportive comments, and twice as many of those as any other writer. Like most of you, I hope that she'll be making many more contributions!
It's is important to me that each article in The New Times is enjoyed by some, but not necessarily all, readers. For example, there are some features of the daily paper that I don't read, but there are others I do enjoy. There are surely other readers that enjoy the features that I don't read and don't read those that I enjoy. In the context of The New Times, one quarter of our readers don't read StarWatch, our monthly astrology column, but 75% of the readers who do read StarWatch rate it as good or excellent. That's important to me.
Dozens of our writers received favorable comments. Among those that our readers most enjoy are Starfeather, Douglas S Johnson, and our Messages in Stone columnists, Collen Marquist and Jack Frasl.
Many readers rely on The New Times to find of products and services that our advertisers provide. Our FYI Events and Classified Advertising section is the most popular feature of the paper even more popular than any of the editorial content. Our resource directory and our display advertiser index also received high marks.
I asked one question on the survey with the specific purpose of gauging whether our readers are interested in the topic of socially responsible investing, and over 60% of the respondents indicated that they are. I believe that we "vote" with our dollars every day, and that this is one of the most important actions we undertake. We empower the values and beliefs of those with whom we have exchanged money and of the organizations that we choose to keep our money for us. I'll be looking for ways that The New Times can become more of a resource for powerful and conscientious financial choices.
Whether or not you participated in our survey, your comments are always welcome especially as a letter to the editor. We received a number of survey responses wondering why we haven't printed letters to the editor recently. The simple answer is that we only print what we receive.
I've always felt that my staff and I don't so much "create" The New Times as we tune in to what she wants to be, then simply hold the energy that allows each issue to be born. The survey validated my perceptions of where we are going and what it is time to leave behind. I understand and take seriously my responsibilities. It's an honor to be part of this important work.