It wasn’t exactly the Northwest Herald calling, but there were no newspaper-specific questions about the Daily Herald, the NW Herald’s closest competitor.
Sponsored by the Suburban Newspapers of America Foundation and taken by University of Missouri School of Journalism students, the questioning took about a half an hour.
Considering that the Daily Herald was not mentioned, I suspect that the Northwest Herald used the foundation to disguise its identity as the beneficiary of and recipient of the results of the survey document.
The early part of the questionnaire wanted to know where I went to find national and international news, and other types of news. The Northwest Herald was on the list. The Daily Herald was not, but the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times were options.
One of the most interesting, but most poorly worded questions was whether I would be happy or sad (I think other words were used) if all local newspapers stopped publishing.
I like newspapers. I’m a tactile kind of guy. I read four a day.
My wife can’t stand the black ink that sticks to light surfaces I touch, but that’s another matter and wasn’t in the questionnaire.
The question about newspapers going out of business could certainly have been more precise.
One newspaper could go out of business without them all going out of business. That’s the way free enterprise works.
One of the questions that amused me most was whether the Northwest Herald amused (maybe the word was “entertained”) me. There was a second element to the question. Pity the two elements were not separated. I could have given a more accurate answer.
Whether or not the questions were developed by the NW Herald, someone is interested in
what folks like me are going to buy in the next year, what stores we have bought from in the last three and twelve months, whether we would like internet want ads (sounds a bit like Craig’s List, which surely must have cut heavily into the newspaper busienss), whether we would like to be able to access the contest of newspaper inserts, stuff like that.
The student who called me is not planning on working on a newspaper, by the way.
If you get selected to answer the questions, think of it as a learning experience. You will get to find out what those who manage newspapers are thinking about doing to survive.