Joyce Terhaar

October 9, 2011

From the Executive Editor: Our goal is to keep you informed

Years ago The Bee asked readers which celebrity was most like the personality of the newspaper. You picked Tom Hanks.

Joyce Terhaar

Executive Editor and Senior Vice President

Years ago The Bee asked readers which celebrity was most like the personality of the newspaper. You picked Tom Hanks.

OK, I thought, I can work with that. Not the ubiquitous sex appeal of an Ashton Kutcher, but better: solid, respected, talented.

We haven't asked about celebrities in a long time. But we recently asked some of you what word best describes how you feel when reading The Bee. You said "informed." And you told us you are most interested in politics – both local and state – and investigative journalism.

One comment from the survey read: "I like it best when The Bee is truly muckraking – exposing the rampant graft and corruption that seems to have become shockingly commonplace and almost acceptable."

Our internal research is pretty much in line with recently released findings from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project. A survey conducted last January of adults 18 years and older was designed to obtain more nuanced findings about where adults go to get local news and information.

The Pew Center, in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, asked people where they got information about 16 local topics, from politics to weather to news about their child's school.

Turns out, "many adults are quite reliant on newspapers and their websites," the report found. It found that among all adults, newspapers were cited as the most relied-upon source or tied for most relied-upon for news about crime, taxes, local government activities, schools, local politics, local jobs, community and neighborhood events, arts events, zoning information, local social services and real estate or housing.

That seems a logical finding since earlier Pew studies found that local newspapers typically report 70 to 100 stories each day, compared with about 15 in a half-hour television newscast.

Yet the survey also found that perception is a problem for the newspaper industry. On the surface, most adults surveyed said if their local newspaper didn't publish, in print or online, they wouldn't have a problem keeping up with news and information in their community.

Seems we're taking Tom Hanks for granted and swooning over Ashton Kutcher.

I know smart people who aren't regular newspaper readers, more often women than men. The reason is almost always the same: lack of time. But I can't say the same about those who are most successful or most civic-minded. They often read multiple newspapers, for the reason cited in our recent reader research: They want to be informed.

While television viewers are most interested in weather, traffic and breaking news, you've told us you want far more. Our surveys show you'd like to see even more investigative stories as well as state and local politics, business news and California travel, among other topics.

We've asked the question as part of a project to improve the Sunday print edition of The Bee. We're also looking at coverage other days of the week even as we continue our push to provide our reporting on multiple platforms – in print, online and on mobile.

Our goal? To keep you informed through your medium of choice.

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