FROM THE EDITOR | Readers: 'Review' is the best, a waste and appreciated

When I started in the newspaper business, one of the best feelings was to see people reading that day's edition. To know that I had a part in the content that people relied on, that prompted conversation and debate, was a bit of a rush. But I always wanted to know what those readers thought about our work -- how important was the newspaper to their lives?

To get a better sense of how our readers appreciate the St. Louis Review, we conducted a readership survey last year. Nearly 2,500 readers across 60 zip codes responded.

As the staff and I reviewed the results of the survey, I was reminded that newspapers matter. Despite all the hype that newspapers are dead, our readers say otherwise. An important mission of the Review is to bring to you the news that other publications cannot and will not cover. The survey results suggest that our readers largely appreciate what we do, although we have plenty of room to improve.

The response rate -- twice what is normally expected for surveys -- suggests a high level of engagement among our readers. A majority of respondents prefer a printed product over digital media, although that may largely be due to the age demographic of readers. Readers over 45 years old comprised 92 percent of respondents.

Particularly interesting was the relationship between what readers said they like about the Review and what they want more of. In order of importance, readers told us they like timely news, feature stories, local news, the archbishop's message and the Living Our Faith section. Readers also said they want more current issue coverage (59 percent), more feature stories (53 percent) and more stories to help faith development (55 percent). In summary, our readers indicate that they want more of a good thing.

No survey should go without an opportunity for readers to voice opinions, and plenty were shared. Some readers praised: "The St. Louis Review is the best newspaper I subscribe to, and I subscribe to four;" others punched: "Waste of money." A few made us chuckle: "Frequent spelling/grammer [sic] errors." Yes, we all need to pay more attention.

The survey results will help guide us as we continue the mission of bringing to you news that helps your faith journey. We'll consider what content to add and what to cover more aggressively, but space in print is finite. We must be good stewards, so our limited news hole means we can only fit so much stuff. One reader summed up our challenge: "I think it would appeal (to) more readers if its content is condensed to include only important and significant information." So what is important? What is significant? The answers are as broad as our Church is big.

Our staff recognizes the great responsibility of the Catholic press, and we are honored so many readers took the time to offer feedback so we can continue to improve and grow. But we don't want to limit our engagement with readers to an infrequent survey. We invite your letters, telephone calls and emails. We look forward to your story ideas and your constructive criticism.

But of all the ways you can let us know how we're doing, the greatest feedback we get is when we see you reading the paper. That never gets old.

Thank you for your continued loyalty to our community's only local Catholic news source.

To give feedback, email editor@archstl.org or call (314) 792-7500.

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