The February PRT published summary results of our community survey and provided links to the entire data set. We truly thank the people who took time to complete the survey. Now… what will the Board do with the results? Here is what we have decided so far:
Regarding who completed the survey:
About 12% of the households in our region responded to the survey. Two-thirds were women and 90% were over 40. The geographic spread was 53% from Patagonia, 29% from Sonoita and Elgin, 18% from outside our region. These demographics offer some opportunities.
•Increase under 40 readership by expanding content and calendar relevant to young adults and families and by significantly improving our online presence.
•Continue the growth in readership in the Sonoita, Elgin, and Canelo communities by maintaining balance in content between the communities served by the paper, striving for more balance in progressive and conservative viewpoints, and by improving the community calendar range and availability.
Regarding why people read the paper and what they like:
Of the 282 responses, most people like the paper, read it regularly, and read it thoroughly. This is good news for us and for our advertisers. When asked what features they liked the most, the top four responses were regional news, local history, local government/public agency stories, and calendar of events. These were closely followed by monthly columns, letters to the editor, and art/photographs/drawings/poetry.
•The Editorial Board will strive to represent suggestions from the survey in future issues. We want more news stories, more opinion pieces from a variety of perspectives, and more articles of interest those who have lived in our communities for multiple generations. To do so, we must recruit more people willing to write news articles, opinion pieces, and feature stories. We need and welcome more writers.
•We also welcome more contributions of photographs, drawings, and poetry. The PRT will also create an online gallery for local photographs by local photographers and print one photo from those submitted each month in the paper itself. We will also begin an artist of the month feature…Look for it in this issue!
Regarding why people don’t read the paper:
Because the paper itself was the major means of distributing the survey, we had a much smaller sample of respondents, only 12, who said they did not read the paper. Their reasons fell in three areas: do not like the slant of the paper (too far left), do not have time, or have trouble finding a copy.
•The Board reaffirmed the PRT mission and notes the words open to all views within it. We have had difficulty securing opposing views on key local issues like mining and will redouble our efforts to find more writers who bring different perspectives. We will add a Point/Counter Point feature to the paper and strongly encourage people who have criticized the paper as left of center to offer their views.
•We will review/improve our distribution system to assure papers are always available at the boxes located in Patagonia and Sonoita.
Regarding responses to questions about online viewing, length, frequency, proportion of advertising, subscriptions, and charging for the paper:
People who responded were, for the most part, fine with the nuts and bolts of the paper. Three surprising results were only 15% read the paper online; a majority of people said they would pay something (between $. 50 and $2 per issue) for the monthly paper on the street; and around 100 people were interested in buying a subscription in order to have the paper delivered to their mailbox.
•The board has discussed and will maintain the length, frequency, proportion of advertising (between 40-50%), not include ad inserts, and keep the PRT free on the street.
Regarding the latter, the Board believes that charging for the paper would reduce readership and that could reduce advertising income and private donations.
•The PRT submitted a grant proposal to upgrade our website, add links to social media and an email distribution system to make the PRT more appealing and accessible on line. We will explore options for a mid-month news and calendar update on line.
•We will actively promote the purchase of subscriptions for people who prefer reading a hard copy and who do not have easy access to papers on the street. Our focus will be on homebound people, former residents, and part time residents in our communities.
Regarding encouraging more people to be involved with the PRT:
Fifty respondents are currently involved in the PRT as donors, advertisers, volunteers and/or staff. Another 125 people want to get involved now or more likely sometime in the future. The Board is encouraged by this response, as the quality and sustainability of a community newspaper requires broad community participation.
•We will regularly publish volunteer opportunities in the paper and online.
•We will recruit additional members for both the Board of Directors and the Editorial
Board prioritizing more voices from families who have lived in the region for multiple generations, residents of Sonoita, Elgin, and Canelo, people under 40, and people with differing perspectives.
•We will build internal capacity to recruit and support donors. We have developed a fundraising plan with the support of a 2017 PCRF grant and submitted a 2018 request to purchase and implement an online donor database.
•We will establish an ongoing feature recognizing local people who give to our communities their time, their knowledge and skills, their actions, and/or their financial
The Board is excited about implementing these steps. Some you will see immediately, others will take us longer to put in place. We trust our readers will be looking and
will hold us accountable!