Zalaznick: Tell us what you really think
Vail CO, Colorado
For the last month or so, I’ve been having lunch a few times a week with readers to hear what they think about our newspaper and its Web site.
Without naming names, I’ll tell you where some of them say we are succeeding, where they think we can do better and where they’ve told us we’re flat out failing.
Most of the readers who said they followed news coverage closely thought the reporting on a variety of topics ” including taxes, immigration and education, among others ” could use more depth. I agree that we too often rush ourselves to get out news that would benefit from a bit more insight.
While I think we succeed at giving people the basic news, we don’t always put our stories into a bigger context or examine the wider impact.
One reader, for instance, asked us to break down the costs of illegal immigration to the county, the hospital and other public services, because it was a figure he had never seen before.
He said we had covered the arrests of people accused of smuggling immigrants, but he wanted to know whether providing basic services to illegal immigrants is bankrupting tax-funded agencies or is the cost worth paying, considering there also are expensive downsides to not taking care of undocumented workers.
We think we should try to find that number, and if we can, we’ll let him and the rest of you know what that is.
Another reader thought we hadn’t assessed adequately the impacts of increased property taxes in Eagle County. He acknowledged that we’d reported how Eagle County and just about every other government agency had decided not to lower their tax rate when home values went up last year, but he thought we hadn’t looked at the wider impacts on the economy of the tax hike. He believed the economy has not yet felt all the effects.
Another reader, who eats out a lot, thought we hadn’t given the community a clear enough picture of the social and financial struggles of the service class in Eagle County. He said he worried even when bartenders, chefs and waitresses manage to close the deal for a home, they continue to struggle with the mortgage and with side effects of spending so much money on housing.
Also along the lines of depth, one woman thought we should do a better job following the lives of people who have graduated from Eagle County high schools. She said telling the stories of former local teens like ski champion Lindsey Vonn and Olympic medalist Toby Dawson would show that kids who grow up here can go on to big-time success.
Beyond the issue of depth, one local Realtor and shop owner said our headlines are sometimes too sensational and asked if we take into account the potential harm done to the business community. He said headlines could scare off visitors or second-home owners ” or visitors who are potential second-home owners.
We are sensitive to this concern, and we try not to run headlines just because they are “sensational.” When we chose to make an unpleasant story the lead, we do so because we believe there also is public interest in the story being very prominent.
For example, if there was a rapist on the lose in the county, our coverage would be very visible because we believe warning residents of a danger posed to the community would be a greater concern.
– A lot of people like Kaye Ferry’s column. Readers said she provides a valuable perspective on Vail ” the town and the resort company ” that they don’t get from our more balanced beat reporting.
– Some readers think we’re too conservative.
– Some readers think we’re too liberal.
– Most of the readers thought we do a pretty decent job covering local issues because it’s information they can’t get anywhere else.
Among the best input was that everyone I’ve had lunch with said they appreciated the opportunity to give their input. So, I’ll repeat the invitation: I’ll buy lunch for anyone who wants to talk about our coverage; contact me at 970-748-2926 or email@example.com.
Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or firstname.lastname@example.org.