Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 12, 2011

Just ask Janet

Janet Gregg
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — This year’s survey netted feedback from Jacksonville, Rusk and Troup. Two people didn’t say specifically where they were from. Some were retirees and some were people still in the workforce. All were subscribers except one who said they are a single-copy-purchaser of the paper. Responses are listed in order by the frequency in which they were cited as favorite things in the paper.

Tier One List     Tier Two

List of Favorites:    List of Favorites:

1) Local news       8) Mallard Fillmore Comic    

2) Comics             9) Upcoming Events

3) Obits                10) Coupons

4) Front Page1    11) Better Print Quality

5) Social News    12) Crossword Puzzle

6) Living Section    13) Religion Page

7) Sam Smith       14) Pictures in the paper.

Tier Three List of Favorites:

15) Dr. Don Newbury    26) Jerry Miller Column

16) Dr. Gott                  27) Sports

17) Frank & Ernest       28) Improved Delivery


18) Improved TV Guide   29) Philip Strong

19) Weddings                  30) Today in History

20) Engagements           31) Just Ask Janet Column    

21) No Alcohol Ads        32) Weight Loss Series

22) Editorials                  33) Discover East Texas

23) Friendly JDP Staff    34) Improved spelling

24) Texas Roundup    35) Improved grammar

25) Celebrity Cipher    36) Delivery By Mail

The next thing I asked for was feedback on the things you don’t like about the paper. Again, these are listed in order based on the frequency with which they were cited:

Tier One Dislikes:    Tier Two Dislikes:

1) Grammatical errors    7) Astrograph

2) Spelling errors    8) Doonesbury

3) Not enough local news    9) Funky Winkerbean

4) Missing words,

sentences, paragraphs    10) Inconsistent Delivery

5) Old or late news    11) Too much sports

6) Lack of national news    12) Too much Bullard news

    13) Submission issues

Tier Three Dislikes:

14) Today’s Birthdays    29) Paper Not Out Earlier

15) Recipes on front    30) Too Much

of Living Section    Negative News

16) Sunday Paper    31) J’ville News

(Prefers Saturday)    & Nearby Cities

17) Depressing     32) Obits


18) Pictures of Wrecks    33) Editorials

19) Not Enough    34) What’s News

Wedding Photos    Too Repetitive

20) Not Enough     35) Lack Of

Wedding     Enterprise Reporting

Announcements    36) Missed news

21) Not Enough    37) We Write Too

Engagement     Much About Us


22) Listing Sexual     38) Too Much

Predators    National News

23) No Monday Paper        

24) Weddings    39) Classifieds Too Costly

25) Engagements    40) Obits Too Costly

26) Society News    41) Too Much Rusk News

27) Too Much

School News    

28) Paper Being Mailed    42) PayPal

So how does this compare to last year? We had about the same number of surveys turned in. Last year we had more from residents living in the county and former subscribers.

Most of the favorites stayed the same.

The Dislikes feedback is where we saw the biggest difference. Last year we were overwhelmed with complaints about the Living section, often still fondly referred to by many as the Lifestyles section that comes out on Sundays.

This time the Living section jumped from the third most hated element up into the first tier of favorites. That’s a pretty dramatic improvement for something that was vilified in the survey responses just one year ago.

Our goal for this section is that the front page always be local to Cherokee County, and preferably that it feature a Cherokee County resident. So please, submit your suggestions for interesting features for the front page of the Living section. The goal for the section as a whole is that all of it is as local as possible filled with engagements, weddings, anniversaries, birth announcements, club news, school news, non-profit news and as much other lighter news as we can fit in there. The more you submit, the more we will have to run. This is your section of the paper. You have the power to improve it further with your submissions.

One person complained that we don’t send a reporter any more to cover weddings and baby showers. I’m sorry, but this paper has far less staff than it used to have, which means we don’t have enough people to cover everything. But if you take a picture and submit it to us with a caption, we will be happy to run it.

By far the two biggest complaints we received last year though, related to the lack of local news and the poor quality of our writing and proofreading.

This year local news was overwhelmingly cited as the respondents’ favorite thing about the paper. That is so gratifying because turning this paper around has been so much harder than I expected it to be. There’s still more to be done, but I think we have made a good start, and I hope you like the changes yet to come.

We still have room for improvement on our spelling, grammar and just overall attention to detail in our writing and proofreading. But we have shown some improvement in this regard and I know you will see that trend continue over the next year.

I have said before, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. If you look closely at the Favorites and Dislikes, you will see what I mean. But let me address a few of them.

To those who said there’s still not enough local news, we are doing the best we can with the current staffing level. This newsroom staff works hard. There’s not a slacker in the bunch. The only way to get more local news, and I mean real news, is to add staff, and I can’t do that until the economy and community support improves.

To those who said there’s too much news in the paper from cities other than Jacksonville, here’s why. This paper used to have more than 10,000 readers in Cherokee County and 69% of Jacksonville households as readers. Today those numbers are nothing more than a fond memory.

I understand many people dropped their subscriptions and stopped buying the paper from racks and over the counter because of quality issues. But the quality has improved, both in regard to print quality and content. And yet the circulation numbers have not grown accordingly.

In order for this paper to remain a five-day per week paper, its scope must become county-wide again. We need to draw in subscribers, purchasers and advertisers from the rest of the county in order to maintain our current level of publishing frequency. In order to do that, we must cover the other cities and the county more consistently than we were doing a year ago.

To that end, I implemented a beat system. Each reporter is responsible for covering specific cities. The hope is that residents in these other cities will embrace and support the JDP again, as they did in years past. We have had favorable response so far from Bullard, Troup and Rusk.

In the end, we are a business. Yes we provide a community service, but we are also a for-profit entity. We have to come together as a county if we are to survive this economy. We have to help and support each other. We can’t just cover Jacksonville and ignore the rest of the county. We are all dependent on each other.    

We are your local community paper. Our mission is not to compete with the state and national media, but to provide you with local news you can’t get anywhere else. I pledge to continue to strive for improvement, to continue to communicate with you about the paper, and to always be open to your feedback. I will review all 32 suggestions you included for improving the paper and we will implement the ones we can over the course of the next year. Thank you for participating in the annual survey.