As much as the math geek in me enjoys crunching the numbers on our annual reader survey (see last month's Editor's Note for those results), the really rewarding part of hearing from so many of our readers is the comments that often come with the survey responses. We appreciate how many of you take the time to add a note, a few words of praise or a push for us to do better.
It makes our day, of course, to hear how essential Desert Exposure is to your lives: "When I wake up in the morning (around 6 a.m.), I put the coffee pot on, and when it's done I sit on my favorite chair and read your newspaper," a Silver City reader wrote, adding, "I find it very interesting. When I finish reading it, then it's time to start my day!" A Las Cruces reader wrote, "Your publication is the best in the Southwest. Keep the good work going. It's wonderful to be able to look forward to reading your publication every month." Another reader in Cruces said, "I couldn't get through the month without Desert Exposure!" and added, "I read all your ads also." Since the ads are what make it possible to bring you Desert Exposure every month, we particularly appreciate such comments, along with those of the reader who simply wrote, "The ads are cool!" and the one who commented, "Your ads look great."
A Hurley reader called Desert Exposure, "The hippest read in Grant County." Wrote another fan, "Your publication is a refreshing intellectual mix of our area's culture, spirit, and politics."
A number of comments singled out Desert Exposure's importance for newcomers and those planning/hoping to move to Southwest New Mexico, as an essential guide to what our region has to offer: "Having just moved to Silver City about six months ago from Denver, I have found Desert Exposure to be an entertaining and practical way to learn about the area. I look forward to every issue." "We currently live in North Carolina, plan to move to Silver in a few years. Desert Exposure keeps us really connected to what's happening."
Though such general effusiveness nicely swells our heads, we especially welcome the comments about our periodic in-depth, "investigative" features. To be honest, some of these pieces are so in-depth it's gratifying simply to know that anybody takes the time to slog all the way through to the end! In an era when most of our information comes in bite-sized, USA Today-ized nuggets, it speaks well of the average Desert Exposure reader that you not only put up with but respond to articles that require many pages to grapple with complex topics: "I've enjoyed the objective articles on controversial issues. Although I am 'opinionated,' I try to understand other points of view." "Your investigative reporting is as good (in-depth, accurate, fair) as we've seen." "Always read the lead article in the second section. Excellent, in-depth reporting and professional writing!" "The way you report both sides of a story is both refreshing and professional."
Each issue tries to deliver a lively mix, of course, not only heavy lifting, so we especially liked this comment: "I really value the in-depth, balanced reporting on various issues, and also enjoy the wit of your writers and contributors. What a great combination of thoughtfulness on serious issues leavened with people's favorite jokes and sense of the absurdities of our lives!"
You can't please everybody, though we can keep trying. In the same stack as that comment from a fan of our "Celestial Cycles" horoscope was this criticism of the same column: ". . . it's just generic, without the pertinent info we need. Doesn't even mention when Mercury goes into retrograde." We do listen to reader suggestions, and so you'll note that our already "great" horoscope this issue adds an introductory section about the astrological goings-on each month. We've also fine-tuned Bert Stevens' "Starry Dome" column in response to reader feedback, to make it easier to get to the month's astronomical happenings.
Other reader suggestions included more coverage of the local music scene and local musicians—a good point, as after doing profiles of Ed Teja and Melanie Zipin some months back, we've fallen down a bit on this coverage. A couple of readers also requested additional outdoors coverage beyond Larry Lightner's "Ramblin' Outdoors" column. "I respect the rights of hunters/trappers, but I would like to read about wildlife encounters which don't begin with the assumption that when one sees an animal, it should be killed!" This issue's lead feature on Gila Wildlife Rescue is perhaps a start in that direction, but we'll also look for more features on hiking, biking and even driving destinations in the great outdoors. (We continue to get requests for copies of the Separ Road tour we published last October!)
Whether you think Desert Exposure just couldn't get any better or that we've got plenty of room for improvement, rest assured we will keep trying to make this publication better and even more reflective of life and issues of concern in Southwest New Mexico. Above all, we hope to make sure that Desert Exposure is always worth your time and effort, not only to read but to comment upon.
David A. Fryxell is editor of Desert Exposure.