Communication works best as a two-way street.
Last week, The Ridgefield Press hosted a coffee and community conversation event at the Lounsbury House, with around 20 people in attendance. Those who showed gave some excellent feedback about this newspaper and what they’d like to see from it in the future.
Some of the changes you’ll see already taking place this week, like property transfers being slotted under the previous “Coming and Goings” headline. Some suggestions will take a little longer to implement; however, the newsroom takes all comments seriously and encourages readers who missed last week’s meeting to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other highlights from the Lounsbury House meeting include:
An introductory subscription to new home buyers who aren’t familiar with the paper and its history that dates back to 1875. If a low-cost, trial subscription isn’t feasible, then at least have real estate agents give papers to new townspeople when they buy-in. Similarly, give newspapers to the Welcome Wagon lady, Dee Strilowich, who runs Personal Touch Welcome and goes door to door, making introductions when the weather is nice.
Give readers an incentive to pick up the newspaper, don’t give it all away for free online.
Hand out papers at CHIRP concerts, which The Press co-sponsors, to give the paper exposure during the slow, summer months when people are away. Also, try to elicit feedback and story ideas from concertgoers who are lounging in their fold-up chairs and listening to music in the park.
More features highlighting the individuals in town and all their accomplishments. The town is chock full of artists, writers, and musicians who want to tell their story.
Bring back student columnists. The student could be from the high school or one of the middle schools. Seeking fresh perspectives and cultivating young writing talent are important roles for the newspaper to play in this community.
Put an emphasis on creating a more robust “happenings” section where events are mentioned and featured more than just once.
Finding new readers, increasing circulation, and expanding certain sections weren’t the only ideas thrown around during the two-hour dialogue.
To enhance our regional news coverage, someone suggested attending the monthly Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) meetings in town. Consider it done.
Another suggestion was to create a column that compares what’s spewed on social media to what’s actually happening in town. Call it, “Truth versus Twitter.” Keep your eyes open for this one!
And finally, would bringing back the neighborhood newspaper routes, with boys and girls delivering The Press on bikes, help engage young readers and create a connection to the paper that doesn’t exist in the era of tablets and cell phones? That one we’re going to sit on for a little while, but we do very much want to stay relevant for future generations and this idea —putting the paper physically in their hands —is a tangible solution.
The first coffee and conversation was a mixed bag as you can tell. We hope to have another one soon so keep your eyes open for an announcement. Until then, the newsroom will be setting up shop on the second floor of Lounsbury once a week — most Friday mornings — for anyone who wants to walk in.
We miss having an office in town but we’re still here — transparent and willing to serve our readers. We look forward to hearing from you.