The word that most sums up the results of the survey we mailed to readers last summer is “Wow!” I am still stunned by the overwhelming number of results (which are still trickling in).
Approximately 3,500 of you responded — way more than we expected. We’re still going through the results, but one thing is clear: Readers overwhelmingly are happy with the Bay Journal.
Many, in fact, said that they pass their copy on to friends or colleagues. Hundreds asked us to send sample copies to friends (we’re in the process of doing that). And many asked us to increase distribution in areas where they live — “they all disappear each month,” one reader said of bundles delivered to her local library.
One of the top reasons people said they read the Bay Journal is that it provides a watershedwide perspective on issues. “I like the way that you cover why a multi-state effort is necessary to keep the Bay healthy,” one wrote.
The overwhelming majority of readers said they take some sort of action based on what they read in the Bay Journal — or that it inspires them to go outside and enjoy the region’s natural bounty. “It reminds or informs me about natural resources I should make a point of seeing and enjoying,” one said.
Interestingly, we got replies from all over the country. Many people who have moved away said the paper helps them stay connected to Bay issues. One reader told us that although she now lives in the Midwest, the Bay Journal helps her children learn about the Chesapeake. A few said they wished a similar paper was published where they live.
Wherever they reside, readers told us they appreciate that articles are based on facts and science. “It is not ‘fake’ news!” several wrote.
While people like the Bay Journal, they also suggested some tweaks. For instance, we clearly heard a call to bolster our Virginia coverage, particularly in the Richmond-Hampton Roads corridor. A lot of people would like to see us add a history column, and a number said they would like to see more coverage of headwater areas and climate change issues.
Some found areas they thought we could improve. A number of respondents thought agricultural coverage was too negative. That is, admittedly, a balancing act. We certainly try to have a mix of stories that capture the complexities of farming in the Bay region, and the difficulty of trying to produce more food while simultaneously trying to reduce runoff — a challenging issue here, and globally.
Nearly half of the readers said they would be interested in attending a Bay Journal event, so we may schedule some things next year that allow readers and our staff to get together. That will give us — and you — a chance to talk about these issues in greater detail.
We’ll continue analyzing the information and passing on what we glean. Meanwhile, thanks to all those who shared their thoughts.