We're building a Web site that will allow users to easier navigate our site and find content of interest to them. As mentioned in an earlier post, we'll have more interactive tools for readers to share content and interact with Bee reporters and other readers in the region. But I think what will make the new sacbee much better is a new attitude we're developing in the newsroom.
The new attitude involves a willingness to actively seek out and listen to reader input and feedback to improve how we serve our readers, both online and in the paper. Part of this attitude change is driven by the Internet itself -- a recognition that readers have more choices than ever for news and information, and that the Internet offers editors the chance to get input even before we've made some of our decisions.
Editors have always sought to serve their readers, but the feedback editors got was often limited to readers reacting in letters or phone calls to decisions already made. Every couple years, a newspaper might conduct a poll of readers in its market to gauge what they were reading and how well they liked a particular section or columnist. But again, readers were asked to react to decisions editors had already made. No one ever asked readers to suggest a section they would like to read or a type of column they would like to read.
In the coming days, we'll be asking every fifth user who comes to sacbee if they would give us some feedback in an online poll. There will be several questions asking readers to click a box that best represents how they feel about the site or tell us why they came to sacbee. There will also be some questions that will allow readers to make suggestions about how we can better serve them online -- not just react to what we are doing.
After we launch the new sacbee, we will continue to ask users for feedback, partly to gauge if readers think the new sacbee is indeed an improvement. But also to keep improving how we serve our readers online.
Along those lines, as we are forced to make decisions on whether to retire some comics and add new ones, either because the comic creator is retiring or wants a hefty increase in what they charge us, we'll be asking readers to help us make decisions on which comics should run in The Bee. We'll use a new reader forum tool we'll have with the new site to preview some of the new comics and ask readers which of the new potential comics they like best. We may have readers rate all our current comics, and then look at those comics that received the fewest positive votes to compare against the new possible comics. The goal here is that readers will help choose which comics we publish and which we decide to no longer publish.
We're also hoping to let readers know in advance when one of our beat reporters or columnists plans to sit down with a newsmaker, and we'll ask you for any questions you would like to see addressed. That will no only allow readers to help shape the news, but to make our public officials more accountable to the communities they serve.