In Other Words.....(4/10/14)

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, April 9, 2014
“USA Today has come out with a new survey - apparently, three out of every four people make up 75% of the population.”

-David Letterman, Late Night Host

The WL Index took a broad leap into the minds of its gracious, yet very opinionated audience. We sent out a survey to many of our readers asking for their input on news, sports, opinion and everything else Index related. In the end, 79 readers responded with a plethora of opinions. We laughed, we cried, we compiled all that information together. So let's begin…

Apparently, 44.87 percent of our audience reads the newspaper online. That's fantastic! The Index has worked hard on improving its online presence this last year, whether that be Facebook or our weekly E-edition. In case you haven't jumped on board yet, every Thursday we put a fully accessible E-edition of the latest Index online that can be accessed by any computer, tablet or mobile device. If you're a subscriber, you already have full access to this new technology. Just go to and set up an account. An account for just the E-edition can also be set up from the same place. No, we don't plan on stopping the print edition, but we're excited to offer the full print edition online as well.

To start getting in depth, we asked our readers which section they read first in the paper and allowed them to choose more than one option. Nearly 85 percent said news, while 14 percent said obituaries. Both the sports and upcoming events sections tied in third with 8 percent of the vote each. It's encouraging to know that the news remains our most valuable asset, and also that the upcoming events section is gaining some ground. As said before, it's a live calendar of major West Liberty events on the horizon, so please check it. Also, let us know when events are on the way! Just drop us an email at

When asked what kind of content readers would like to see in the paper, the comments were overwhelming focused on local news. One reader summed up a majority of the opinion by saying The Index should focus on "locally relevant news and events with some highlights of regional news, spotlights on businesses, groups and members of the community." At the same time, there was a vested demand for human interest stories on locals. With a town full of interesting people, we'll attempt to uncover more about its citizens.

Also, there were several comments about more political discussion. As one reader wrote: "I'd like to see the columns from our district representatives and senators be published while the legislature is in session." The Index will begin publishing more about the men and women who represent you. We've begun including Rep. Tom Sands' weekly column, "State Issue from Sands," which talks about his time in Des Moines as your representative.

The Index asked if its audience felt the newspaper is engaged in the community. The overwhelming opinion was yes, with several singing our praises. At the risk of bragging, one reader wrote: "I believe the paper has improved this past year with articles that have stemmed the interest of the past and the community news has improved." Thanks!

Now that we've set the bar in this category, The Index has a new challenge: to keep bringing you the same amount of coverage you've come to expect.

Others expressed a want for more city government coverage and more focus on smaller events. We will continue to cover every council meeting and bring you the in-depth coverage you need, not just the highlights. As for the small events, if you see one coming please let us know about it. We do our best to be know-it-alls, but we don't know everything. We need you to let us know when stuff is happening.

Sports was our most divided topic. We asked what the public would like to see more of when it comes to sports, giving them the option to choose more than one category. Sixty-three percent said they want players comments, coaches comments, district and conference standings and individual box scores ranked high. Basically, the people want comments and stats, and that's what we'll begin to strive for!

There was criticism over the lack of JV sports coverage. As one reader put it, "It seems that if a parent doesn't write something about jr. high games, there isn't anything in the paper (besides a team photo)." You’re right, readers; we have a tough time with that one. There are A LOT of sports in West Liberty and a huge variety in age groups. With our full-time schedule, we have a tough time getting to each and every game, but that's where you can help us! We are a community paper, and we want to encourage our mothers, fathers and coaches from kindergarten to JV sports to work with us. If you can convince the coach to do a write-up, or do one yourself, we'll be more than happy to give you the space. Please let us know! The Index wants to improve.

On the same subject, many readers want to see the fine arts represented as well. University of Iowa student Emily Archer has worked to bring you more of the fine arts lately, and we'll begin looking into bringing you more scores and state competitions.

In what was perhaps one of the most overwhelming majorities, 86 percent of our readers want to see the return of the student page known as the "Blue and White." The Index wants to see it return as well, considering our associates in West Branch and Mount Vernon have found great success with their student operated and written section. "The experience is invaluable," said one reader. "Especially exploring the different aspects as a writer, photographer, etc. An advisor at the school would be essential, but it's a great experience." The Index has reached out to WLCSD and will continue to do so on the topic of reviving the "Blue and White." The problem, at the moment, is that there are no journalism certified teachers at the high school. To finally achieve this we'll need support from the community and the school. If we had a student run section we could potentially cover more fine arts events and youth sports. It's a win/win all around.

Finally, The Index was humbled by your responses to our final question, What is your overall satisfaction with the newspaper? Forty-seven percent said above average while 42 percent said it was fair. We have a lot we need to work on as a newspaper, and we know it. We're proud of how far we've come and we know that's no excuse to stop now. Thanks to your survey we know what needs attention and what's working. It's an honor to bring you your local news every week, something we don't take lightly.

To keep traveling down this path we need West Liberty to communicate with us. Whether it's a small event or a large one, please let us know. Send us letters, suggest columns, send in story ideas. The Index is a busy two-man operation that needs your input. Together we can create a weekly newspaper that doesn't just report, but promotes our community. We've been here since 1867 and we're here to stay. So, when you have a moment, drop by our office and talk to us. We want to hear from you.
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