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Readers weigh in

Alex Miller

It’s been a little while since we’ve gone out looking for reader input, so the Vail Daily recently hosted the first of a series of “Readers’ Circle” meetings aimed at giving voice to what readers like and dislike about the paper.In assembling the group, the first goal was to try to get as diverse a crowd as possible, without relying on the “usual suspects” – community leaders, elected officials, spokes people and the like. While still skewed a little toward the gray, our group nonetheless has representation from people in their 20s into their 60s, men and women, professionals and service-industry folks.Here’s a quick rundown of some of the comments our circle provided – some minor, some more important, but all of them revealing:n The paper’s columns and editorials need to make strong stands, and avoid waffling.n We could use another conservative columnist, but not “rant” pieces.n Need more stories about issues and trends – the “whys” and “hows” behind the news.n Mix of news is good; mostly readers pick up the Vail Daily for local news.n Need to put more background in stories, not assume everyone knows all the detail.n Don’t like the staples in the paper.n Print in public notices is too small.n Our weather page is seldom accurate enough.n Too many ads in the paper. The layout is sometimes clunky, and stories that jump from one page to another can be hard to follow.n Lead stories aren’t always that important, and headlines can make them seem more important than they really are.n We should have a form on line and a notice in the print edition telling people how to submit story ideas.n Should have more sports stories about local athletes and sports clubs, not just preps and professionals.There were more observations, but those were some of the things that seem to cry out for action. Some things may not be fixable. Ads, for one, pay the bills, and there’s a specific formula for the percentage of the paper made up of them to make the paper profitable. But we can ask our layout person to work a little harder making more even news holes. The staples are probably here to stay, since they keep the paper neat, the sections better organized (a complaint that led to stapling), and also reduce the chance of individual pages blowing around town – a real benefit we didn’t even know about until we asked our circulation guy.The comments about needing more stories about local people, stories with better reporting to tell the “why” and including important background are all things to take to heart. With a relatively small staff and a daily paper to get out, we don’t always have time for in-depth on everything, but there’s always time to throw in a sentence explaining, for example, that Crossroads is a residential/retail development in Vail or that Miller Ranch is an affordable housing complex in Edwards.The more we hear, the better the chance we can fix it. We’re still looking for more participants in the Readers’ Circle, so if you’re interested, contact me by phone or at the e-mail me at the address below. If that kind of commitment’s not your thing, but you’ve still got something to say (and don’t necessarily want it to run as a letter), send an e-mail and we’ll listen.It’s only fair, after all. Here we are always telling you what we think. Now it’s your turn.Assistant Managing Editor Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or amiller@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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