Survey seeks input of ‘Light’ readers

BY MIKE SHERWIN, STAFF WRITER

Readers will have a chance to voice their opinions to staff and board members of the St. Louis Jewish Light in a survey beginning next week.

The 19-question survey will attempt to gauge readers’ interest in the Jewish Light, gather opinions about its coverage and content, and elicit suggestions for ways the paper could improve.

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This week, the Jewish Light will include the readership survey in its printed edition, which readers can submit by mail, and readers will also be directed to the paper’s Web site address, www.stljewishlight.com, where readers can find a link to fill out the survey online.

David Grebler, president of the board of trustees of the Jewish Light, said the survey is an important step in planning the future direction of the newspaper.

“For several years now we have been working to give readers more professional coverage of events in our community and events of interest to them from the national and international news that relates to our specific readership base, the St. Louis Jewish community. While we feel we’ve been making good progress on that, we thought it was time to implement a strategic planning process to chart the course for the future of the Light,” Grebler said.

“We can’t plan for where we need to go if we don’t have research on what people look for in the paper, what they like now, and what they’d like to see in the future,” he said.

Grebler said the Light’s board has developed a strategic planning committee, headed by Jane Tzinberg Rubin, which will look at a number of potential issues with the paper, including making changes in the newspaper’s coverage, structure and presentation.

Rubin said part of the strategic planning process has included gathering input on other Jewish community newspapers around the country, although its focus is on its “primary constituency,” members of the St. Louis Jewish community.

The board decided to hired the firm Collaborative Strategies to help design and implement the readership survey.

“The survey is going to inform literally everything about the future direction of the paper, anything from how often it’s published to the content that’s in it, to who it is sent to, to the style of its coverage,” said Brian Hayden, a senior consultant with the firm.

“We want to get a better understanding of what information do people find most useful in the Light, where are they spending most of their time, and which sections are most valuable to them,” he said.

Rubin said she hopes readers will participate in the survey, because their feedback will be vital in deciding on the future course of the paper.

“The St. Louis Jewish community only has one Jewish paper, and it’s truly their paper, and they should have an interest in determining what that paper should be,” she said.

In addition, the survey will ask several demographic questions to ensure that the survey’s respondents closely mirror the Jewish Light’s actual readership base and to find out if certain features have particular appeal to certain demographic groups of readers.

Since the Jewish Light became autonomous in 1963, four readership surveys have been done: in 1963, 1973, 1982 and 1990.

Grebler said that the readership survey is an important way to make sure that the Jewish Light is serving its readers.

“The Light is our Jewish community’s newspaper, and it’s here to serve the community. We simply can’t do as good a job in that mission as we’d like if we don’t have information from the community,” he said.

Fill out the Jewish Light’s reader survey online

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