*

Jon K. Rust

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications.

Opinion

An update -- and invite -- about shaping Semissourian

We are in the midst of redesigning the digital platform for the Southeast Missourian, and feedback has been coming in about what people want to see. It's not too late for you to join us with your thoughts. Go to semissourian.com/thefuture to sign up.

So far we have received feedback from more than 360 people -- and 200 have signed up to be part of what we're calling the Southeast Missourian Digital Insights Group. This Insights Group will receive previews of the new site to provide feedback that will shape the final design.

There have been a number of common themes to those who've rated the current semissourian.com. One highlight is that users look to the site for local news first and foremost, and, if anything, increasing the amount and navigability of local news should be primary.

A concern that was voiced is that many users -- while also visiting the website frequently -- don't want to see the print editions go away. A few even offered to "pay more to keep print alive" while others lamented that print three-times a week wasn't enough. Originally, the Missourian team wasn't focused on the print product for this project -- there are no plans to reduce print frequency and, in fact, we hope that some day we might be able to add days -- but the feedback is a good reminder of how vital print is to many of us in Southeast Missouri.

Overall, ratings of the website were strong, which makes us feel good about what semissourian.com means to the community. Here are some of the comments:

* Best source of local news for over 100 years.

* I still think a local paper is essential to a community. Also, it is the only available source for local news.

* Although I'm sure there's always room for improvement, I get the news I need in a user-friendly format. I haven't taken a print subscription for a good number of years now and probably wouldn't read the news at all if I didn't have my online subscription.

* It is the information system to the public of Southeast Missouri.

* Excellent source for local news and information.

* Local news. National coverage that is balanced. A paper that has the courage to print a daily prayer.

* I enjoy the newspaper online because it keeps me in touch with what's going on locally each day plus a deeper understanding on the national level with opinions and background information.

* The best source for daily news in the area (over tv and radio).

* The Southeast Missourian is the most accurate source for local news.

* The Southeast Missourian is my favorite place to review local news and to stay up to date with what is happening in the community.

* The local newspaper helps create and maintain our community.

* Of all my news sources, I find semissourian.com gives honest and complete coverage on what I'm interested in. It also offers many wide subjects to keep it local and interesting.

* We find content everyday that is relevant to our personal or professional lives: events, sports, local news, school info, obits, etc.

* Good coverage of local and regional news. Above average national news. Love having a newspaper in my hands.

* I have read your publication one way or another for almost 30 years. Simply excellent, from the actual printing of the newspaper, to the stories contained therein. Hope to read it for another 30 years!

* I check the newspaper every day using my online account access. It's just about the only place I get my local news from as I don't watch much television and prefer to read news online as opposed to watching it on television.

* Best online source for local news.

* You can do everything at your fingertips.

* I don't see much change needed. We are blessed to have a news source that doesn't jump on the mainstream bandwagon of political polarization. I would like to see the paper continue its ethical approach to reporting that is seemingly gone in major news outlets.

* Best way to follow the community, most in-depth coverage.

* It is the absolute best news source regarding Southeast Missouri both for those who live in the area and for those who have moved away but always call it home. It is a credible and reliable source. Also, it focuses on SE Missouri, not Illinois, Kentucky etc., as the other area new source tends to do. Also, I am a staunch supporter of hometown businesses, and this is one I can proudly recommend.

***

Some of the "constructive feedback" that was received ranged from calling on newspaper staff to do a better job with copy editing and grammar, improving online account management (including logins) to adding more liberal columnists (because opinion page is "too conservative") or doing away with Associated Press (for being "too liberal"). Reviews of the current commentary rules were mixed. Several respondents asked for the newspaper to ditch online subscriptions and make everything free, but that isn't a realistic suggestion.

Note: The above are just some of the common themes. There were many specific suggestions -- and great ideas -- that we will follow up on.

Yesterday, we sent out a survey to members of the Digital Insights Group asking them about navigation. What do they think are the most useful categories to have at top of the home page? Our goal is to get away from some of the confusing redundancy on the current site so people can navigate more easily. Again, if you want to give feedback on such questions, please go to semissourian.com/thefuture.

In the meantime, thank you again for your support of the Southeast Missourian, which allows us to continue to serve the community with original local journalism, covering what's important to life and families in Southeast Missouri. We're still looking good for launch of the new site in November! Thank you for your prayers.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian.

Comments