published Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Gerber: Seeking feedback

A question: What do you want to see in the Times Free Press?

We know readers pick up the paper for all kinds of reasons, some to keep up with the news, others to read about the Vols or play Sudoku or clip coupons.

But I’d like to know your opinions on coverage in the news pages: the A section, Metro and Region, Business, Life, Sports and the Times and Free Press opinion pages.

Too much crime? Not enough crime? What about politics? Overloaded or underwhelmed?

Health? Food? Business news? More videos on the website?

Are there things we aren’t covering that we should? Are there things we cover that we shouldn’t?

Think it over and let me know.

A just-formed committee of 11 journalists in the newsroom is looking at this very issue. From stem to stern, the committee is reviewing everything we do — stories, photos, organization, what we put on section fronts. The group is charged with looking at every detail — what we do well, what we can tweak, what we ought to completely blow up.

Once they’ve intimately studied the Times Free Press, committee members will make recommendations on the newspaper’s direction.

But we’d like for readers to weigh in, too.

We’ve created an email address specifically for readers to provide feedback. You can send your thoughts on coverage in general or on a specific story, photo or headline to readerfeedback@timesfreepress.com.

We’ll take all opinions into consideration and look for trends or see if a consensus is taking shape.

It’s impossible to please everyone. One reader writes me each time we run a sports story on the front page because, while he is a football fan, he believes football games should run only in Sports. But I recently received a call from another reader who wanted to know why we underplay some sporting events.

“Big games should all be on the front page,” he said the day after Alabama defeated LSU in the BCS championship. “Especially when Alabama wins.”

Another reader complained that the Times Free Press is too sensationalist, saying we cover crime too much, while another complained in the same week that we don’t write about enough of the crime that happens here. He thinks we shouldn’t just cover homicides and big cases but should let readers know about all crimes, down to the smallest break-in.

What’s the right answer? It depends on personal interest, and that’s a hard thing to gauge.

Just a few years ago, editors sat in news meetings every day and debated what stories readers want to see.

Then the Web provided something measurable on a daily basis; it’s easy to see what Web stories interest readers based on numbers of page views. Still, there are times when a story generates interest on the Web but doesn’t play well in the print edition.

So perhaps the best option is simply to ask readers what you think.

It’s your paper. So let us know what you’d like to see in it.

Alison Gerber is the managing editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Reach her at agerber@timesfree press.com. Send suggestions to reader feedback@timesfreepress.com.

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
shoe_chucker said...

how about letting readers comment on your "news" stories??

January 29, 2012 at 9:46 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

I agree with shoe_chucker. I miss reading others' opinions/comments on the news features and I miss being able to inject my own two cents' worth from time to time. I think that the TFP went way overboard in its new draconian policy of completely eliminating readers' digital feedback to its news stories. Also, I've never undertood why there is no option of responding digitally to the syndicated op-ed writers. Every other facet of the editorial pages we are able to respond to. Why not the syndicated columnists like Krugman, Brooks, Sowell, Williams, etc.?

January 29, 2012 at 3:56 p.m.

Removal of the comments, you aren't running it right for decent discussion.

January 29, 2012 at 7:37 p.m.
ceeweed said...

Your new comments policy, in my humble opinion, sucks.

January 29, 2012 at 9:08 p.m.
sogal67 said...

All in all I'm pretty satisfied with news stories. David Cook has been agreat and enlightening addition; the only trouble I have is with stories that give steet addresses, but not the location in the city. I have lived here 25 yrs. and I still don't exactly where everything is.

January 30, 2012 at 3:10 p.m.
Rtazmann said...

MORE NEWS AND THE POLITICS PAGE TO CHANGE,,,,AND BEINGS THERE IS A POLITICS PAGE GIVE THE PEOPLE A HOT LINE THROUGH OUR COMMUNICATION DIRECTLY TO OUR GOVERNMENT..

January 30, 2012 at 7:50 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

The paper's percentage of locally written stories dropped when WEHCO media took over; I expect that to drop even further after seeing this. Part of the reason why news meetings are held at least daily was to get the stories assigned and to ensure coordination among the writers and staff: I wouldn't recommend that you try to do without those. You need all the help you can get.

It's not our paper. You are run by a corporation that has deliberately decided not to listen to its readers. WEHCO's purchase of the Times-Free Press was the death of print journalism in our area. Unless you make a massive effort to reverse that, which you won't, then no one's going to confuse your operation with "our paper."

You're still "the paper" or "a paper" but you are clearly not "our paper."

Really, you need to get about 25 people on staff who have programming and web publishing experience. As it is, you've already shown that you can't handle basic comment moderation. Your recent decisions to refuse comments altogether speaks more to your fragile ego and professional failures than anything else. It's clear that your people in leadership cannot face the brutal truths about the nature of their own jobs.

You not only can't handle the truth, you also cannot handle comments on the truth. What can we do for you in the information business when you act like that?

We're all aware that your editorial performance has been shockingly poor for a long time. Increase your professionalism and stop confusing yourselves with someone who is in charge of the information. You are discovering it like everyone else; you have failed to recognize this point; and, that's part of why you have continually lost your way into failing as a news organization for over a decade. Get it together at any time, please.

January 31, 2012 at 2:23 a.m.
jesse said...

after bennetts cartoon on bob moon i don't think the tfp should be judgmental about crass and insensitive comments by posters on news story's!(some of the posts were better than the article!)

main focus should be on local story's and local politics! btw:david cook rocks!

February 1, 2012 at 9:05 a.m.
acerigger said...

I'd like to see more coverage of the shenanigans going on at the Tn, Capitol. btw, I think the "Moon 'toon" spoke to Judge Bales rather than Judge Moon,subtlety is lost on the knee-jerkers 'round here.

February 1, 2012 at 9:42 a.m.
jesse said...

hey ACE! it wasn't the toon,it was the timing!

kinda a LACK OF CLASS ACT issue!

February 1, 2012 at 9:58 a.m.
jimfromthebay said...

journalism instead of commentary. news instead of poorly disguised advertising.

February 2, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.
rolando said...

Grow a thicker skin.

February 2, 2012 at 8:37 p.m.
Rtazmann said...

ON COMMENTS YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD,,,EVERYTHING IN THE NEWS IS NOT POSITIVE...PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO POST AS THEY FEEL AS LONG AS IT IS NOT SOMETHING NASTY OR DEGRADING A PERSON....CAN YOU CHANGE THE POLITICS PAGE???I'VE BEEN SEEING THE SAME STORIES THERE FOR A YEAR OR BETTER,,,PUT ON A CARTOON SECTION OR SOMETHING..

March 1, 2012 at 6:01 p.m.
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