To our readers:

Two weeks ago, we asked for your opinions on some changes we are considering to The Press Democrat.

To our pleasant surprise, the response was overwhelming: More than 1,500 of you took the time to tell us what you think of the work we do. We were astonished at the number of responses and humbled by the care you took with your analysis. You took the role we play in this community personally, and so do we. As editor, it was hard to turn up anywhere — from birthday parties to baby showers — without someone wanting to go off in a corner and discuss what mattered most about our coverage.

More than anything, the surprising result was the depth of your connection to The Press Democrat — whether you read our news in print, on your computer, on your tablet or on the phone in the palm of your hand. We have earned your trust and we want to keep it.

One message was clear, and it confirmed our most basic assumption as we look at ways to make the newspaper more relevant to our community while making sure the costs of producing our news report are in line with the revenues coming into our business.

Above all, you want a robust local news report. About 75 percent of you said comprehensive local reporting is most important reason you read The Press Democrat. When asked to name the second most important reason, the results were split among several topics, including lifestyle coverage and opinion. But the largest share — at nearly 30 percent — chose national and world news. Many of you made the point that while local news is primary, you expect us to provide a larger global and national context, especially through analysis and national political columnists.

The topics you ranked as most important are in line with those we are choosing to emphasize as we allocate coverage resources in an industry facing declining readership and advertising revenue. You told us our clear priority should be holding institutions and leaders accountable through watchdog and investigative reporting. Or, as one public education advocate asked me at a wine tasting, “If you don’t do it, who will?”

You love — and sometimes hate — our editorials and local columnists. You want us to cover the environment, local businesses, outdoor recreation and transportation. Local arts and entertainment coverage is important to you, along with the thriving food, wine and beer scene that forms our identity and draws national attention.

We will keep these priorities in mind as we debut the changes next month. What began as roundtable conversations with 60 readers has expanded to include 1,500 more of you. Thank you for letting us know what matters to you and for making us a part of your lives every day.

Catherine Barnett
Executive Editor

To read a sampling of reader comments in response to the survey, click here.

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