Top News

STEVE BARTLETT: Ask for reader feedback and here’s what you get

Receiving readers’ feedback on his column gives Vernon Oickle great pleasure.
- 123RF Stock Photo
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Thank you.

Last week, I asked readers for their thoughts on how we could make our content mean as much to them as it did to my newspaper-loving dad.

Dozens from across Atlantic Canada took me up on the offer and I’m really grateful for their feedback.

They suggested a range of things, like “more coverage about or by successful, engaged youth,” or that some issues need “more nuanced coverage” than they get when the focus is criticism of government policy.

Some asked questions such as, “Why don't you cover seniors' sports?” and, “Why so much court coverage?"

Many told me what they didn’t like. Too many front page “sob” stories and the lack of critical arts reviews are just two examples.

Others told me what they enjoyed, especially a number of our writers and columnists.

A couple of readers questioned my intent and my sincerity.

A few politely pointed out a word I used incorrectly. 

“I have developed a bit of a fixation with proofreading as I move through the news,” one reader wrote. “I wonder was Dad weary or wary?”

She — and the others who flagged that gaffe — are 100 per cent correct. The sentence should have read, “He dearly wanted his kids to succeed, but always seemed wary if we were stepping outside his personal comfort zone.” (Although, I’m 100 per cent sure there were many, many times when his four kids made him weary too, particularly my brother Wayne.)

Email responses to the column continue to roll in. I’m compiling the feedback and discussing it with colleagues. I’ll be using some of the concerns, ideas and questions as topics for future pieces, hopefully explaining the logic or reasoning behind some of our approaches and decisions.

It was encouraging to hear from so many people who care about our content, who are complimentary and/or critical about what we do because it is important to them. They want us to get it right.

It was also rewarding that a column about my dad prompted some readers to reflect on experiences with their own parents. They shared poignant stories.

“When you wrote that he is not around to see how things turned out, I thought of my father, who was a superb musician and band leader for students in middle school/junior high,” one reader wrote.

“Like many adults, I got away from all that till my dad died in 1992, and shortly after, I started playing trumpet and cornet again. I have since turned myself into a decent brass player and, at times, I ponder, ‘Dad no longer hears all of this, or does he?’

“Maybe that's why I brought my trumpet to a church cemetery in P.E.I. last fall, played several hymns and ‘Last Post/Reveille’ in the clear morning air not far from his grave site. Somehow, I believe he would have been pleased.”

Again, thank you.

Steve Bartlett is SaltWire Network’s senior managing editor. Reach him at steve.bartlett@thetelegram.com.


MORE FROM STEVE BARTLETT 

Recent Stories