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The pulse of a paper

Mike Bennett

My first mission as your new publisher in January was to check the pulse of the Post Independent. How were we doing in the eyes of our readers, advertisers and employees?During my first three weeks, I interviewed every employee. The good news was that most of staff enjoyed working at the newspaper. The bad news was that most felt that the newspaper did not reflect the communities we served.Then next step in my research was to see what your thoughts were about the newspaper. Over the course of the year we received more than 400 responses in newspaper surveys, we’ve held 10 focus groups and 10 community coffee talks, and we spoke to hundreds of readers. In addition, we’ve receive hundreds of e-mails and letters.A few concerns jumped out from the survey. Some thought the newspaper had too much of a liberal bias. A general feeling was the Post Independent didn’t report news such as an accident in the canyon on a timely basis if at all. Most readers wanted to see more stories about people in their community and a little less government and environmental reporting. There was a large minority that wanted to see more state, national and international news. Universally most readers wanted to see more news about the community in which they live.In general, survey respondents rated themselves much more conservative than the newspaper. Forty percent called themselves “conservative” or “very conservative,” while only 13 percent felt the Post Independent has a conservative bent. Conversely, 50 percent of respondents rated the paper “liberal” or “very liberal,” while only 28 percent of respondents were self-identified liberals.Bias is an interesting thing. One of Webster’s definitions of bias is “An inclination or preference that interferes with impartial judgment: prejudice … ” Our goal at the newspaper is to report the news in a fair, impartial and accurate manner. We must tell all sides of a story. You may not be happy with the story, but if we follow these guidelines, we’ve done our job. The Commentary page is a different story. That is the only page in the newspaper where you should see our bias. It is our responsibility to the community to present our views on issues. Often we may take an opinion that isn’t popular. Again, that is our job.Our news staff has done a wonderful job of improving our newspaper. Over the course of the year, we’ve increased staff to provide more local coverage of the area. We’ve also made some improvements to our Web site, postindependent.com. We are beginning to post breaking local news as it happens. The Glenwood Canyon closure last week was posted in real time. For those news junkies, we now have the Associated Press feed on our site. You can read spot news from around the world in real time.I am one of those guys who is driven to please my audience and cursed with a feeling of never being satisfied. No matter how well we do, I believe there is always room for improvement.Mike Bennett is the Post Independent and Citizen Telegram publisher.


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