Two findings stand out: First, more of you read the print version of the paper than the online version. And second, we need to include more local news in each issue.
The current affinity for the print version over the digital version is apparent. Ninety-five percent of those who responded to the survey read the print version—but a significant 40 percent read the online version. The numbers suggest that quite a few people read both, and we know from other data that our digital readership is growing.
We received a wide range of responses to the question about how we could improve the paper, but what stood out was the recommendation that we provide more coverage of town news—everything from matters that come before the Selectboard and Planning Commission, to profiling Charlotte’s many farms, businesses and neighborhoods, to looking into why so few people run for office in town.
The challenge for the paper now is to respond to these and other suggestions. We’ll certainly continue to bring the paper in its printed form to every mailbox in town, as well as to a variety of drop-off locations in town, up and down along Route 7 and in Hinesburg. We hope, however, that those of you who haven’t yet done so will also take a look at our website, charlottenewsvt.org, which provides access not just to the current issue but to our complete searchable archives—every issue of The News since 1958 is, literally, at your fingertips.
And we hear you loud and clear that you want more local news to better complement the large variety of personal stories and opinion pieces we publish. Currently we have one freelance writer who covers the Selectboard and the Champlain Valley School District board, and as a first step to wider town coverage we are expanding her current beat to include the Planning Commission.
You’ll also notice in this issue of The News that we have brought back the Fire and Rescue log and added, as a sidebar to the Selectboard report, notices of the meeting schedules of town boards and commissions, as well as preliminary agendas for the next Selectboard and Planning Commission meetings. We’re also carrying the first in a regular series of contributions from the CCS Journalism Club, which our news editor Melissa O’Brien recently formed in association with the paper; see the front page for the club’s debut story.
Your responses to the survey included many specific suggestions for topics that we might cover in the coming months, as well as suggestions for how we could enhance and diversify our fundraising. Be assured that we’re considering all of your ideas carefully.
And speaking of fundraising: With the support of a group of generous friends of the paper, we’re entering the final two months of the year in good financial shape. We will still be coming to the broader community later in November, just as we do every year, to ask for your end-of-the-year contributions to help us pay our bills for the first half of 2019. If, however, you are moved to contribute right now, you can do so on our website. Just click on the Donate button below the top stories or send your end-of-the-year contribution to The Friends of the Charlotte News, P.O. Box 215, Charlotte, VT 05445.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to participate in the survey. The Charlotte News is, after all, your paper. And as we move into our next 60 years, your suggestions, your writing contributions and your continued financial support will ensure we remain not just the oldest but the best nonprofit community newspaper in the state.