What Do You Think?

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[This Commentary was originally intended to appear in the August 3, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel started off as a kernel of an idea in our heads just a little over six months ago. We are now entering our fifth month of publication. After an initial period of fanfare and excitement, we rolled up our sleeves and dug in. A lot of people said we were crazy. A lot of people said it couldn’t be done. But, a lot of people bought the paper and even more have been reading it.

Now, we might be crazy, and it’s a little too early to say anything has yet been accomplished, but the time is right to start encouraging some constructive feedback.

So, what do you think?

Are we covering too much of anything? Are we missing something essential? Is the paper easy to read? Are you more likely to support a merchant whose advertisement you see in the Sentinel versus one who doesn’t advertise? Don’t forget, in the final analysis, no matter what you might think Shirley or I have done, you have the advertisers to thank for bringing back our local newspaper. Without them, the Sentinel will be nothing more than a small (but hopefully interesting) footnote in our local history.

How about town and village news? Is there enough? Is there more than you feel is necessary. Do you find we cover one facet of local government fine but come up short in another? Do you know who your town and village leaders are? Will you be relying on the Sentinel for complete coverage for this November’s local elections? If so, what parts of the election coverage would you like to see us emphasize?

Do our regular features fit in with our hometown newspaper feeling? Are you finding the Animal Care and Fire Safety columns helpful? Have you ever actually made one of the recipes? (I did one of the asparagus dishes.) Do you have any ideas of other regular features that might be helpful to our readers? If so, who do you think would be willing to author such a column?

Are we covering all the news of interest? We’ve tried to shy away from some of the stories picked up by the Gannett papers. Would you prefer we continue with this policy or do you feel we should offer more in-depth coverage of those kinds of stories? Have you noticed there are certain kinds of news stories we consistently miss? If so, what kinds of stories are they and how might we better cover them?

What do you think about the staff of the Sentinel? Granted, we don’t have a large staff and no one works full-time, but are they servicing your needs promptly? Are our reporters objective, yet friendly? Do you enjoy talking to them and reading their reports? Does our in-house staff answer the telephone in a friendly and professional manner? Has our (very limited) sales staff been courteous and helpful? Do you like the way we have created the ads? (We like to make them so they are noticed, but not obnoxious.)

Finally, are the folks at the top of the masthead doing what you expect them to do? Actually, if you answered the previous questions, then you have already answered this one.

We really value what anyone has to say about the Sentinel – Your Hometown Newspaper – and we encourage you to write to us about what you think. If you can take just five minutes to answer the questions on the form to the right and mail it back to us, we’d be most appreciative. To get the most use out of this questionnaire, we’d like it to be anonymous – so feel free to write whatever you like.

Now, I realize a lot of people don’t like cutting up the paper, but you can still send in your comments on your own piece of paper. If you really don’t feel like writing, you can always call us up or speak to one of the members of our advisory board. (I’ll be calling them separately in a few weeks anyway.)

This should be a lot of fun. When we get enough responses, we’ll put them all together and let everybody read about them in the paper. Remember, this paper belongs to the community, so we want to make doubly sure we are doing what you think we should!

Last Week #19: Fear and Loathing on Route 65 (originally published July 27, 1989)

Second Attempt at Week #20: Tour de Canandaigua (draft of attempted replacement intended to be published August 3, 1989 as a replacement to this original Commentary)

Next Week #21: Hooray for the Perseids! (originally published August 10, 1989)

[What is this and why is here? See Interested in Discovering My Time Machine? for more details.]


  1. Chris Carosa says

    Author’s Comment: To understand the purpose of this Commentary, you need to know a little bit about some of my various exploits. While an undergraduate at Yale studying Physics and Astronomy, I also participated in any number of extracurricular activities. One of the most enjoyable of these included a political debating society. Alas, I had a problem. While all the other members majored in such relevant courses as Political Science, Economics, History and Philosophy, there sat I, the lone science major swimming with the parliamentary sharks. What could I do to establish at least an ounce of credibility within the political realm?

    Then along came this thought: Why not employ some of that science stuff to my advantage? I knew math. More specifically, I knew statistics. So I created an organization called “Student Polling Services.” Less a student activity and more an entrepreneurial activity, I (and the others involved with me) actually earned money at this. I used the resources available to me (most notably, the political science professor who was then currently advising Newsweek Magazine on their published political polls). Student Polling Services, birthed in the excitement of the 1980 presidential primary season, evolved into a full-fledged market research firm.

    At the time of writing this Commentary, I was also taking classes at The Simon School en route to obtaining my MBA in Finance and Marketing. One of the classes I took included market research.

    So, naturally, with all this experience behind me, I figured to put it to good use in order to enhance our product (i.e., the Sentinel). In my enthusiasm for the enterprise, I assumed everyone shared my background and knew of the benefits of conducting a customer satisfaction survey. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Everyone else thought this piece was patronizing (to them). Therefore, I pulled it.

    I’ve not changed a thing I wrote. I’ll let you decide if this is patronizing or not. Leave a comment if you thought the original Commentary above represented a sound approach or if you think there was a better way to have obtained honest customer feedback. (Remember, this was in the days before e-mail, web-surveys and chat rooms.)

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