What You Told Us; What You Can Do To Help

By Mike Fourcher | Thursday, May 2, 2013

csj_surveyNow that we’ve cleared our second month of The Reboot, we thought we should ask you a few questions to learn what we’re doing right and where we should focus our efforts. So last month we invited you to a survey. 159 of you completed the survey. Here’s some of what you told us:

The majority of you live in the north part of our coverage area, with 53% of our readers hailing from Northcenter and Lincoln Square. While you’re pretty well split 50/50 by gender, 41% of you are in your 30′s and 24% of you are in your 40′s. Despite that, only 25% of you have children under 12, and 65% are kidless. But then 65% of you own your own home.

71% of you have been reading CSJ for a year or more–13% of you claim to be reading since Day One in 2010. Wow! Thanks for sticking with us!

As for coverage, predominately you asked for more profiles of neighborhood residents and more schools and education coverage. A strong contingent made ward politics a big priority, but they were a minority overall.

68% of you asked for a better calendar and events page. And 69% of you asked for place to find local deals.

We have responded to some of those requests. Last week we relaunched our calendar, and every Wednesday we’re sending out an updated list of events. You can add your own events here.

This week’s stories focus a bit more on community personalities. We hope you enjoy learning more about the people that make our neighborhood tick.

In the open comment section, most of the respondents were complementary (thank you!) but a few asked that we return to the “old” CSJ model, or that we be more like Uptown Update, “Just a running list of events, happenings, and what-not going on in Uptown.”

One person said something I’ve heard from a number of people, “Provide more content and you’ll get more eyeballs. Repurposing content into newsletters and emails will only alienate those who are already reading. Keep it as free as possible.”

Finally, one respondent captured it all with, “I know it is hard to keep something like this going, but honestly, I read it much more when there were frequent updates to the site (even just 1 story helps) when the updates tapered off, it fell out of my reading routine and then off my radar altogether. I think, as hard as it is, the more prolific, the higher the interest will be.”

Thus, our chicken-and-egg problem. CSJ has always aspired to high quality work: It’s why so many of our writers have been poached by bigger publications. But great work costs money, and to make money people have to pay. But, as I’ve talked about in other places, local businesses these days have lots of ways other than advertising to reach customers, so community news advertising in Chicago does not provide the same value it did fifteen years ago.

That brings us back to the community meeting we held in February: We’re neighborhood and volunteer-based, so for CSJ to be healthy, we need you to be an active participant. Here’s how:

When you get down to it, everyone that’s part of CSJ loves being in this community and to make a difference. Thank you again for reading and for being a part of what we do.


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