, Gloucester, MA

August 31, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? Seeking your input through online survey

Why Did My Newspaper Do That?
Ray Lamont

---- — We’ve had a fair amount of stories in the Times lately about the reaching out for public input.

Last spring, for example, the Gloucester School Committee surveyed the local “school community” to get their sense of what course they’d like to see the city support when it comes to building new schools and maintaining the so-called “neighborhood” school concept.

In Manchester, new Town Administrator Gregory Federspiel and the Board of Selectmen are asking residents to weigh in on what they think of the town’s services, and what could be carried out better. And we’ve encouraged both Gloucester and Rockport officials to reach out for more resident input through referendum questions on the city’s plans for a new West Parish School, and Rockport’s choices regarding the leases at Long Beach.

Now, it’s our turn.

That’s right, we’ve launched a survey of our own — and it’s one that can make you a winner, too.

As noted over the last few days by ads in the Times, and in the main, rotating photo display online at, we’re asking you to take the time to fill out the online survey by clicking on the box and telling us, among other things, where you get your news and other information, what parts of the Times you read, how often you read us, what ad products and services you use, and where you get your ideas for shopping, dining out or carrying out other aspects of daily life here on Cape Ann.

What parts of the Times’ news coverage are you most likely to read? Our local news coverage? Arts and entertainment news? Taste of the Times? Our Opinion page? Sports?

Those are just a few of the questions that come up over perhaps a 20-minute survey, which is being carried out by all four of our North of Boston Media Group papers. And the questions are wide ranging.

They essentially ask how you use the newspaper, whether you also read publications such as Cape Ann Magazine, Cape Ann Summer Guide, and others; what other media you regularly use, and where you shop, dine, or enjoy your entertainment — even where you might look to buy or sell a house, car, condo or look to lease an apartment.

Why in the world would we want to know all that? Why, in other words, is your community’s newspaper doing that?

Simply put, because we want to know how to perhaps better serve you as our readers.

By gleaning insight into what elements of the Times and you use the most, what types of news and information you’re most likely to see, and what types of ads you check out the most, we can get a better idea of what you most want to see in your daily newspaper or online presentation.

And by getting a sense of where you do your shopping, where you go out to eat, where you buy your groceries and other information, we can also better tailor all aspects of the Times to meet your wants and needs.

What do you get out of it?

First and foremost, anyone who follows through and fills out the survey, with name and email address at the end, has a chance to win the grand prize of a $500 gift card from Market Basket, along with five runners-up prizes of a $100 gift card.

But you also have the chance to have some real input into what features of your community newspaper you like best, which ones you might just briefly note or ignore altogether, what types of targeted advertising might better help our own sales personnel and other local businesses, what businesses might have more to gain by turning their sights on the Times and its readers, and who we might also reach through our own Facebook, Twitter and other social media coverage.

Each week, in this column, I ask: let me know what you think. This week, however, you have a special means of doing that.

Please take the time to take the survey at; it should be a big help to us here at the Times — and it may make you a prize-winner, too.

Questions? Comments? Is there a topic you’d like to see addressed in a future column? Contact Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000, x3432, or at