Reader survey attracts mixed reviews
By Taylor Clyne
July 03, 2019
It’s been more than a decade since the North-Eastern Advertiser conducted a survey asking readers to give their feedback and opinions on all facets of the paper, and with our 110th birthday fast approaching we thought it was high time to hear from our valued readers again.
Whilst some respondents used the survey as an anonymous way to nastily criticise the paper and our staff, the overwhelming majority provided constructive and thoughtful feedback which was greatly appreciated.
On average we distribute 3,000 copies per week through local businesses, door sales and online, which we estimate equates to 5,000 readers based on multiple readers within one household.
Just two per cent of our readership responded, a total of 88 surveys, of which 40.9 per cent completed it online while the other 59.1 per cent filled out a hard copy paper version.
Females made up the biggest portion of respondents with 75 per cent followed by 22.7 per cent male and 2.22 per cent not gender answered.
It was positive to see a younger demographic engage with 3.4 per cent aged between 10-19 years old and 7.9 per cent aged between 20-30 years.
Not surprisingly our main respondents were 60+ years of age who made up 37.5 per cent of the tally followed by 29.5 per cent aged between 46-59.
We asked readers to rate our regular editorial features, layout, photography and design out of five options: extremely interesting, interesting, satisfactory, not interesting and do not read.
Sergeant Andrew Hanson’s police report was the most popular column, with 42 per cent of respondents rating it extremely interesting.
“It’s good to get a handle on who, what and where there are issues,” one reader said.
The monthly Council meeting Q&A also proved popular, with 39.8 per cent rating it extremely interesting.
“I find this interesting because I don’t go to the meetings myself and it’s a very 'real' account of what happens there.”
Whilst another reader said they appreciated the ‘non-biased account’ however it could be improved by ‘keeping it briefer.’
The Scottsdale Magistrates Court of Petty Session column has returned to the paper this year to readers’ delight after more than a 10-year hiatus.
The Advertiser made the decision in early January to have a reporter sit in and hand record the entire session monthly after ongoing feedback from readers that they missed it.
Previously when it ran a police officer supplied the information to the Editor.
31.8 per cent of readers surveyed said the court report was extremely interesting and another 50 per cent responded 'interesting.'
Hot off the Press (Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down) was also very popular – 36.4 per cent responded extremely interesting and 38.6 per cent responded 'interesting.'
This is a new segment that our team decided to trial; given it's an anonymous feature it’s been popular, to say the least.
“I like it because it’s a quick read where I often get a laugh from, it is to the point,” one reader said whilst another said, ‘it can cause a few red faces and please explains.’
One of the least popular segments was the horoscopes, which 51.1 per cent of respondents said they did not read.
One reader said the horoscopes were ‘useless witchcraft’ which made our team giggle while another reader was a little more curious stating that they ‘wished it came true’.
In all honesty, this was another trial column for us after running The Life Hacker health blog for a few years and looking for a new direction. We’ve decided that this poor rating will likely see the horoscopes replaced with a new book review column in the future.
Tailored Fashion is another blog that we’ve run for close to five years now thanks to the sponsorship of a local clothing business. 29.5 per cent rated it extremely interesting a further 40.9 per cent said it was interesting.
A few readers noted that it should include men’s fashion and grooming while another said ‘it has no place in this type of publication and should be in a women’s magazine.’
Our Town Treasure column featuring older community members and stories of their lives was rated highly with 29.5 per cent saying it was extremely interesting.
“I enjoy learning about locals and their past lives,” one reader said.
We asked readers what they would like to see more of in the paper and received heaps of great responses with ideas like a kid’s corner, stories on the early history and founding families and Dorset success stories.
Other readers said they would like to see ‘actual news’ and the correct use of spelling, grammar and apostrophes.
In the past few years, the Advertiser went online with a new website, and Facebook page engagement has been steadily increasing which has been positive.
Also, in the past few weeks, we’ve made a conscious decision to grow our social media presence, uploading entire articles and more current news as it's unfolding, irrespective of our Wednesday deadline.
One reader said they would like to ‘see more daily posts and photos’ which we will endeavour to do but with the same number of staff employed it’s not physically possible to ramp this up too much given social media doesn’t return any revenue.
Regarding the quality of our paper, layout, size and style overall readers found it ‘easy to read’ and ‘the photo quality good’.
We’ve provided a detailed rating on a selection of questions below for your interest too. More can be found on our website at www.northeasternadvertiser.com
From our team to you I’d like to say thanks for participating in our survey and while the survey might be finished, we are always open to ideas on how to improve our product, after all this paper should be a reflection of the community.