A little more than a year ago, readers were asked to take a survey about Discover Ferndale (DF) news coverage, website technology and features and so on. There were a lot of responses and many interesting things were learned. The feedback was greatly appreciated.
This year, let’s have an open discussion in the comments below (“LEAVE A REPLY”) so an exchange of suggestions can provide a potentially better result (yes, you’ll have to submit your email address but it won’t be added to any list, sold and no salesman will call — if you want to not use your real name, that’s okay).
Here’s a little bit about the editorial guidelines DF has tried to follow that may be worth opining on. The goal of these guidelines is to create not only news of interest but also news that matters.
- Provide news coverage absent of the writers’ perspectives and opinion, thereby not insulting the readers’ intelligence by trying to connect the dots for them.
- Minimal use of adjectives to prevent spinning or otherwise dramatizing events or information.
- Avoiding stories featuring one individuals’ accomplishments (good or bad) unless they directly impact the community for the most part (e.g. as awesome as Jake Locker is, his football accomplishments wouldn’t qualify).
- Stories should not contain supposition, inferences, mind readings, best guesses, assumptions and other non-factual statements (e.g. “It appeared,” “Seemed he felt”).
- Avoid quoting individuals explaining their actions or prophesizing future actions during one-to-one conversations. What people say outside of a public record often has little bearing on what they can be expected to do in the future or say when on the record. As a result, pulling quotes from, for example, meeting minutes of public meetings is much preferred over comments made during a one-on-one interview.
Since last year’s reader survey, the daily morning update has been introduced. The effort is to publish by 8am, hopefully closer to 7am, a quick summary of what is scheduled for the day. This includes a quick glance at the roads and weather too. It continues to build a consistent readership so unless there is a reason not to, it will probably continue.
Many people find out about DF stories via Facebook, Twitter and, just recently, device notifications. But Facebook is finicky about how often and when it decides to let fans know about stories, sometimes including them in a fan’s newsfeed a day later and including them in the newsfeeds of less than 50% of fans.
For a while, Instagram followers were seeing periodic updates but they were delayed, sporadic and, frankly, it’s a pain to do. Instagram is all about the image so unless there was a unique DF photo or DF created graphic, stories weren’t being shared. Given the limited, but albeit growing, number of followers on Instagram, updating was discontinued a few weeks ago. Was that a bad idea?
Speaking of discontinuing features, forums were made available for a couple months but were only occupied by chirping crickets since there was apparently no interest. Do you have an idea for how to position forums for better pickup and value? It’d be nice for people not on social media (this appears to be a fast-growing group, especially after the election) to interact with their neighbors.
How is DF working on your devices? Does it fit your screen as it should? Have you found the menu button when viewing DF on your phone or tablet? Are the links and buttons easily clickable? Is information organized in a way that makes sense?
What news is missing or is being covered too much? Would you like to see other conventional community milestone items like obituaries and weddings?
Did you know you can send in news tips, photos and videos 24/7? There’s no worries about waking anyone up if the hour is late. Often, news that would otherwise go unnoticed gets covered due to reader tips.
Also introduced recently is the ability for readers to provide financial support for DF. For those who have stepped-up to contribute $2 per month or who have made one-time and larger monthly contributions, thank you. The response has been quite minimal though. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of reader discontent with DF.
So, what would you change if you were in charge at DF? Let’s hear it.